During India's encounters with the hostile neighbour, the army has always emerged victorious and kept the nation's morale high. The instances of such hostilities wherein the Indian army made the nation proud are many, and so are the mementos which are brought back, acting as a reminder of India's triumph over the enemy. The 'Jarpal Queen' has become one such symbol.
The vehicle, with Urdu script on its sides, is a "war trophy" captured from Pakistan during the 1971 conflict. A US-origin Willys jeep, sleek, shiny and in shipshape condition, is the object of lavish attention. It currently stands at the 3 Grenadier Regiment's camp, about 40 km from Leh. The 'Queen', is named after Jarpal in Pakistan, is actually royalty on four wheels.
The Army attacked the Jarpal area on the night of December 15, 1971. The 3 Grenadier Regiment of the Indian Army subsequently captured the jeep.
"We captured it during the Jarpal war and it was used by the Pakistani army as a part of their attack plan at Shakargarh border, in Jarpal area of Pakistan. So, it was named Jarpal Queen. From that war, India has two Param Vir Chakra medals," said Colonel (retd) J S Dhillon.
The 'Jarpal Queen' travels through the length and breadth of India as a prized possession of the Regiment, which has ensured the almost 50-year-old vehicle moves like a well-oiled machine.
"It is a 'war trophy' and was shown to VIP guests and was also used during guard of honour for senior officers. It is in great condition and runs very smoothly," said Dhillon, a Sena Medal recipient who was commissioned in the 3 Grenadier Regiment in 1982 and now heads the Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering, Gulmarg, under the Ministry of Tourism, reported PTI.
He said the 'Jarpal Queen' had gone wherever the Regiment has been stationed. Jaipur, Kupwara, Simla, Poonch, Meerut, Ferozepur... the list is long. In 1988, when the Regiment was in Ferozpur in Punjab, the jeep was registered with the Punjab transport department for it to be driven on the road.
"We took a number, insured and registered it. As far as I can recall, except the regiment's UN mission to Eithopia, the jeep has gone everywhere with them," said Dhillon.
The jeep has also been witness to numerous border skirmishes with the neighbouring country, particularly during the regiment's stints in Jammu and Kashmir. The jeep was used for patrolling on the border roads of the country and became a source of inspiration for the Indian soldiers.
In 1971, a full-scale war broke out between India and Pakistan, after Pakistan initiated hostilities by launching Operation Chengis Khan against several Indian Air Force bases. It ended with the surrender of 90,000 Pakistani troops and led to the creation of Bangladesh.