Chinta Bahadur- A four legged Soldier ?

Chinta Bahadur- A four legged Soldier ?

Chinta Bahadur, also lovingly called ‘Chintey’ by his fellow unit soldiers, is a member of the Fifth Gorkha Rifles. He does all his duty in the army starting from morning physical training drills to all other work. He gets promotions and all other benefits available to soldiers of the unit known for its gallantry. He is also the longest serving Indian Army personnel in the country since 1944!

But Chinta Bahadur is not a human being. He is a sheep but treated as a solider for all practical purposes. At the same time Chinta Bahadur is not just an ordinary sheep. His horns painted green and black, in the colours of his unit; he is escorted by two of his colleagues, who ensure that “Naik Chinta Bahadur” eats only fresh, green grass. He is a part of the unit. His current rank is Naik. From reporting for the morning physical training (PT) sessions to attending formal Army ceremonies and functions, Naik Chinta Bahadur, is considered a soldier an integral part of the Army, to the point of getting promotions in the Indian Army.

But why all these special treatment to Chinta Bahadur ? The story dates back to a pre-independence incident — when the British Indian Army troops fought at then Burma in World War II in 1944. It was one of the most fiercely fought battles for the regiment. Rifleman Chinta Bahadur was one of the brave soldiers who went missing in Burma during operations that year. After days of search, he could not be located nor his body found. But a sheep appeared from the spot where he was lost. Lo and behold the sheep started following the unit when they were leaving. Since then, a sheep with the same name is raised by the unit in memory of Chinta Bahadur. However, for the soldiers of 5/5 GR, Chinta Bahadur is not a ‘sheep’, but an incarnation of their colleague, Rifleman Chinta Bahadur who went missing during the war.

Currently, Chinta Bahadur has the symbolic rank of a Naik, meaning he is a ‘do-feeta’ soldier who wears two rank chevrons. “Knowing that a sheep usually lives for 8-10 years, Chinta Bahadur mostly reaches the rank of a havildar (three-rank chevron), and when he dies, the unit gets a new sheep, who inherits the name of Chinta Bahadur and becomes a part of the unit. This tradition has been going on since 1944. It is the way to keep Rifleman Chinta Bahadur alive in the unit.

The first Chinta Bahadur’s latest promotion came on June 23, when he was promoted as “Naik” from Lance Naik, on the Battle Honor Day of 5/5 GR, held at Dagshai. Every year June 23 is celebrated as Mogaung Day (Battle Honor Day) because it was on this day that Captain Michael Allmand (posthumous) and Rifleman Tul Bahadur Pun from the battalion were awarded the highest pre-Independence British Army honor, the Victoria Cross, for the Mogaung operation in Burma. Chinta’s promotion as Naik was announced during the function recently on June 23 at Dagshai in front of the entire battalion.

How Chinta Bahadur has become a cynosure of eyes for the unit is evident from the care and attention he gets, not just from his unit colleagues but also the locals of Dagshai who identify him as a part of the Army.

Source: Himalayan News Chronicle