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Why Is Haryana's Ahir Community Demanding a Separate Regiment in the Army?

The demand for a separate regiment is being raised under the banner of the Sanyukt Ahir Regiment Morcha.

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Edited By :Tejas Harad

The Ahir community conducted a march on the Delhi-Gurugram expressway on Wednesday, 23 March, to demand the formation of an 'Ahir Regiment' in the Indian Army.

The announcement of the march, which was expected to cause traffic disruptions along the Delhi-Gurugram expressway, had led to a circular being issued by the Gurgaon police saying that the highway would be closed for vehicles from 7 am to 5 pm on Wednesday.

Why Is Haryana's Ahir Community Demanding a Separate Regiment in the Army?

  1. 1. What Are the Demands of the Ahir Community?

    The demand for a separate regiment is being raised by members of the Ahir group from south Haryana under the banner of the Sanyukt Ahir Regiment Morcha.

    Their argument is that the army had several regiments based along caste lines. Since a large number of Ahir community members serve in the Indian armed forces, the protesters have demanded a separate regiment along the same lines.

    The community, which is highly prominent in the Ahirwal region – comprising Gurugram, Rewari, and Mahendragarh – has been making this demand for several years now.

    The morcha had undertaken a similar protest in 2018, during which members of the community had staged a hunger strike for nine days to push forward their demands. The strike ended after politicians assured them of their intervention in the matter.

    After consultations with block and panchayat leaders in Haryana and Rajasthan, the community has been on an indefinite protest near Kherki Daula toll plaza in Gurugram since 4 February to have their demands met.
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  2. 2. 'Fight for Our Rights' 

    Manoj Yadav, founding member of the morcha, said that the demand for a separate Ahir regiment in the army was a fight for the community's well-deserved rights.

    "The Ahir community has given sacrifices in all the wars and they have won several gallantry awards. In the battle of Rezang La in 1962, out of 120 casualties, 114 were Ahirs. It is unfortunate that Ahirs have not got the recognition like other communities," Yadav was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

    He also said that the recruitment to the President’s Bodyguard (PBG) is open only for Rajput, Jat and Sikh regiments, adding that just like there was a separate caste-based regiment for Sikhs, Gorkhas, Jats, Garhwals and Rajputs, they were demanding the formation of an Ahir regiment in the army.

    Political Support

    Several political leaders across party lines have endorsed the demands of the Ahir community publicly.

    Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Manoj Jha had raised the issue of the Ahir community's demands in Rajya Sabha in February this year.

    "The demand for representation in the army has been ongoing for 70 years... members of the Ahir community are still protesting in Gurugram," Jha had said.

    Congress MP Deepender Hooda had also extended support to the community on Saturday after visiting the Kherki Daula toll, where the protests were ongoing.

    Expand
  3. 3. 'Pure Caste Regiments Not Appropriate in Indian Army Post-Independence' 

    Lt. General Kamal Davar (retd), veteran of the 1965 and 1971 wars, told The Quint that "pure class" regiments had been deliberately created by the British because they wanted to keep Indians divided. But after independence it was decided that all regiments will be "all India, all class," which essentially entailed mixed-class compositions.

    While he emphasised that Ahirs were extremely brave troops, he said, "It is well-nigh impossible and totally incorrect to have a pure-class regiments in the current times," adding that if such a demand were to be met, "other communities would also make similar demands - which would not be conducive to a diverse society like India."

    Speaking along similar lines, Lt. General Satish Dua (retd) also said that the Indian Army follows a "comprehensive recruitment" policy owing to the diversity in the country.

    A former army officer who did not wish to be named told The Quint that the demand of the Ahir community was a long-standing issue, but present policies in the army did not permit such demands to be met.

    "Regiments like the Punjab regiment, the Dogra regiment and the Sikh regiment were formed earlier, but in the post-independence period, most regiments have been mixed-class ones."

    He also said that the Ahirs had a large-standing force in the armed forces and that they had fought very bravely, and had proved their valour in all the wars they fought, "like the battle of Chushul in 1962 when a whole Ahir company sacrificed their lives to protect the nation."

    While he emphasised that current policies were not conducive for caste-based representation in the army, the former army officer said that "the Ahir community's needs must be recognised in some form or the other as the community believes it has not got its due."

    (With inputs from The Indian Express.)

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What Are the Demands of the Ahir Community?

The demand for a separate regiment is being raised by members of the Ahir group from south Haryana under the banner of the Sanyukt Ahir Regiment Morcha.

Their argument is that the army had several regiments based along caste lines. Since a large number of Ahir community members serve in the Indian armed forces, the protesters have demanded a separate regiment along the same lines.

The community, which is highly prominent in the Ahirwal region – comprising Gurugram, Rewari, and Mahendragarh – has been making this demand for several years now.

The morcha had undertaken a similar protest in 2018, during which members of the community had staged a hunger strike for nine days to push forward their demands. The strike ended after politicians assured them of their intervention in the matter.

After consultations with block and panchayat leaders in Haryana and Rajasthan, the community has been on an indefinite protest near Kherki Daula toll plaza in Gurugram since 4 February to have their demands met.
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'Fight for Our Rights' 

Manoj Yadav, founding member of the morcha, said that the demand for a separate Ahir regiment in the army was a fight for the community's well-deserved rights.

"The Ahir community has given sacrifices in all the wars and they have won several gallantry awards. In the battle of Rezang La in 1962, out of 120 casualties, 114 were Ahirs. It is unfortunate that Ahirs have not got the recognition like other communities," Yadav was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

He also said that the recruitment to the President’s Bodyguard (PBG) is open only for Rajput, Jat and Sikh regiments, adding that just like there was a separate caste-based regiment for Sikhs, Gorkhas, Jats, Garhwals and Rajputs, they were demanding the formation of an Ahir regiment in the army.

Political Support

Several political leaders across party lines have endorsed the demands of the Ahir community publicly.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Manoj Jha had raised the issue of the Ahir community's demands in Rajya Sabha in February this year.

"The demand for representation in the army has been ongoing for 70 years... members of the Ahir community are still protesting in Gurugram," Jha had said.

Congress MP Deepender Hooda had also extended support to the community on Saturday after visiting the Kherki Daula toll, where the protests were ongoing.

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"I extend full support to the demand of Ahir Regiment in the Indian Army. I have also raised the demand in parliament and until a positive decision is taken, I will stand with you in every fight from road to Parliament," Hooda was quoted as saying by PTI.

The MP had also said that Yaduvanshis have a deep connection with both "plough and arms," adding that their valour needed no introduction and that it was high time that the community got due recognition as a separate regiment in the army.

Union Minister of State Rao Inderjit Singh had also joined the protest in solidarity with the community.

"I support the demand of an Ahir Regiment in the Army. I have written to the defence minister regarding the same. Not only Mahendragarh and Rewari (Haryana), but people of Uttar Pradesh are also demanding the formation of Ahir regiment, the minister, who had visited the Kherki Daula protest site on 2 March, was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

Earlier, Singh had also tweeted a letter he had written to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in September 2020 asking for a separate regiment for the Ahirs.

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'Pure Caste Regiments Not Appropriate in Indian Army Post-Independence' 

Lt. General Kamal Davar (retd), veteran of the 1965 and 1971 wars, told The Quint that "pure class" regiments had been deliberately created by the British because they wanted to keep Indians divided. But after independence it was decided that all regiments will be "all India, all class," which essentially entailed mixed-class compositions.

While he emphasised that Ahirs were extremely brave troops, he said, "It is well-nigh impossible and totally incorrect to have a pure-class regiments in the current times," adding that if such a demand were to be met, "other communities would also make similar demands - which would not be conducive to a diverse society like India."

Speaking along similar lines, Lt. General Satish Dua (retd) also said that the Indian Army follows a "comprehensive recruitment" policy owing to the diversity in the country.

A former army officer who did not wish to be named told The Quint that the demand of the Ahir community was a long-standing issue, but present policies in the army did not permit such demands to be met.

"Regiments like the Punjab regiment, the Dogra regiment and the Sikh regiment were formed earlier, but in the post-independence period, most regiments have been mixed-class ones."

He also said that the Ahirs had a large-standing force in the armed forces and that they had fought very bravely, and had proved their valour in all the wars they fought, "like the battle of Chushul in 1962 when a whole Ahir company sacrificed their lives to protect the nation."

While he emphasised that current policies were not conducive for caste-based representation in the army, the former army officer said that "the Ahir community's needs must be recognised in some form or the other as the community believes it has not got its due."

(With inputs from The Indian Express.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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