Role in the British Army
The Jats played an important Role in the British Army. Classified as a 'Martial Race', the Jats formed an important part of the British army (and now the Indian armed forces).
James Skinner recruited many Jats as irregulars in the famous Skinner's irregular Horse in Hansi in the early 1800s, an extension of George Thomas' policy of settling armed peasants and pastoralists. The Jats and Gujars, who worked as cultivators on his farm, also served as the recruitment base for his irregular army. He gave them pensions, jagirs and attached them to the army service and land. This bolstered their status in the villages and in the long run, led to a more settled pattern of life in Haryana.
The Jat clans who helped the British in 1857 were commended by the colonial authorities and recruited in large numbers in the following regiments:
- 2nd Lancer (Gardner's Horse),
- 14th Lancers (Murray's Jat Horse),
- 6th Jat Light Infantry,
- 10th Jats,
- 12th Pioneers and
- 48th Pioneers.
The main recruiting regions in the Rohtak-Hissar region were Rohtak, Jhajjar, Chhuchhakwas, Badli, Bahadurgarh, Sampla, Dighal, Gohana, Sonipat, Meham, Fatehabad, Bhatti, Bhiwani and Hissar. The Jats from these areas earned their reputation as soldiers in the military campaigns in Bhutan (1864), Afghanistan (1878-80), Burma (1884), East Africa (1898), North Western Frontier Province and China (1900-03).
During the First World War, they were described as 'one of the best and most trustworthy of the fighting races of India'. As a result, the 6th Battalion of the Jat Light Infantry was made a Royal Battalion.
Recruitment in the army served the Jats well. For one, it was beneficial economically. It also made the British more sensitive to the Jat (agricultural) interests.
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