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SATVIR soldiers on: 6 decades into service, goats that serve Indian Army

SATVIRs retire at the age of ten and are accorded a military funeral upon their death


Goat. photo: Wikipedia

BS Web Team New Delhi

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When Havildar SATVIR retires after serving the Indian Army’s 7 Kumaon regiment, his namesake will take charge. It has been so for 60 years.

SATVIRs are goats brought from the higher ranges of the Indo-Tibet border of the Kumaon hills at a young age. The regiment’s present Havildar SATVIR is the sixth goat in the lineage. SATVIRs retire at the age of around ten years and are accorded a military funeral upon their death and buried with a three-gun salute.

The Kumaon region is characterised by steep mountains and deep valleys. These mountains take shove-footed goats to maneuver through the rough terrain. SATVIR is one such goat.

The name SATVIR also has a story behind it. A team of Army officers was appointed to come up with the name and the formal christening was done on the third raising day of the unit on September 1, 1965.

The 'Times of India' (TOI) reported that SATVIR is an acronym for S – name of the unit Seven Kumaon, A – Battalion motto: All the way to battle, T – name of then Commanding Officer Col Thamboo, V – name of the 2IC Viswanathan, I – name of the senior most Coy Commander Ishwar Singh Dahiya, R – name of then Subedar Major Rawat.

SATVIR started as Lance Naik in the 7 Kumaon in 1965. Later, like other regular soldiers, he was promoted to the rank of Naik in 1968. He was appointed as Havildar in 1971.

Across the history of warfare, humans have utilised various animals to augment their firepower. The image of a swift cavalry horse comes naturally to the mind when thinking about the presence of animals in a battlefield.

Operating in the battlefield, animals have not only utilised their physical prowess to the peril of the enemy but have also displayed their intelligence and human-like ingenuity to rescue their human comrades. The name of Maharana Pratap's horse, Chetak has become part of the folklore and is a testimony to the human-animal bond in the battlefield.

Dogs are said to be a man's best friend and have served alongside armies for centuries. However, departing from the traditional army set-up, modern-day armies have learnt to leverage the skills of a variety of animals. These animals include the decorated mule, Pedongi. To read about more such stories, click here.

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First Published: Apr 25 2023 | 3:30 PM IST

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