The next Republic Day, one may not find the world’s largest gathering of traditional cavalry on the Rajpath in New Delhi as the Indian Army has reportedly planned to convert its iconic horse-mounted unit into an armoured regiment.
According to sources, the Army has decided to equip the Jaipur-based 61st Cavalry with tanks and make it a combat force from its current position as largely a ceremonial unit. The 61st Cavalry was raised in 1953 by amalgamating mounted elements of cavalry regiments of the erstwhile princely states of India.
A committee led by Lieutenant General (Retd) DB Shekatkar committee had made this suggestion to the Army, which has granted it approval, Hindustan Times reported. The recommendation to replace the cavalry with tanks was made to benefit the Army, said Shekatkar. The plan is to also make an equestrian excellence node from the strength of horses, sources added.
With a rich tradition of playing polo, the regiment had produced some of India’s best polo players, who have received 11 Arjuna awards in polo and equestrian events. But Shekatkar told HT that polo and equestrian sports are no more the main occupation of any army unit anywhere in the world.
Currently, the ceremonial Presidents Bodyguard (PBG) and the 61st Cavalry are the only horse-mounted cavalry units of the country. Historically, cavalry units have played critical roles in decisive battles such as the Battle of Haifa in Israel fought in 1918.
Indian Army commemorates September 23 every year as Haifa Day to pay tribute to the three Indian Cavalry Regiments — Mysore, Hyderabad and Jodhpur Lancers, that helped liberate the city of Haifa following a heroic cavalry action by the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade of the then British Indian Army in the battle.
The Teen Murti memorial commemorates the role of the three regiments in that famous battle.