Once A Demoted Officer Raised Indian Army’s Most Elite Battalion: The Special Forces

As a Major, Megh Singh had volunteered to launch attack deep inside Pakistan territory in the 1965 war

Lt. Col. Megh Singh Rathor was an Indian Army officer who was once Court Martialed and demoted due to some reason to the rank of Major just a month before the 1965 war started.

Being demoted, he was asked to depute at a training school in Shmila but as the war started he was again called upon to join the forward fighting positions. As a Major, Megh Singh had volunteered to launch attack deep inside Pakistan territory in the 1965 war. For which he was given free hand to choose soldiers of his choice. He formed a small group lead by him, assigned task to penetrate deep inside Pakistan territory and carry out raid, cause destruction and come back quickly. This small force was named Meghdoot force. Named after then Major Megh Singh.

He succeeded in launching 3 successful raids in Pakistan in 1965 without suffering any casualty. Later on based on this concept 9 PARA Commando Battalion was made.

He explained that he had taken part in similar actions during the Second World War in Burma behind Japanese lines and thus had requisite experience.

Lt -Gen Harbaksh Singh (Later Padma Vibhushan) his commanding officer appreciated and accepted the offer of Maj Megh Singh and promised to pin the rank of Lt Col on his shoulders, once he had successfully carried out operations suggested by him. Maj Megh Singh reported to GOC XV Corps and was asked to select volunteers from infantry battalions.

Maj. Megh Singh was soon able to assemble a group of young, hardy and dashing daredevils and set about giving them intensive training. Within a couple of weeks he declared his group called Meghdoot Force ready for any operational task. Besides other operations, the force was proved to be strategic in the bold operation to capture the Haji Pir in 1965 war.

Then Lt. Col. Megh Singh Retired as the DIG BSF

Maj. Megh Singh was given the honour of affecting the link up between troops advancing from Haji Pir and Punch. He was awarded Vir Chakra and Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh as per his promise slipped on the badges of Lt Col on the shoulders of Megh Singh.

Originally from 3rd Battalion, Brigade of the Guards, he strongly believed that a small group of men, highly trained, motivated and equipped could create absolute havoc inside enemy territory. The Meghdoot Force proved that Indian Army was and is capable of successfully operating and attacking targets well behind enemy forward defences.

After the war, the government was so impressed with the performance of this ad-hoc unit, Lt. Col. Megh Singh was directed to raise a special mission unit. On 1 July 1966, 9 Battalion (Commando) was raised in Gwalior. In June 1967, 9 Battalion (Commando) was split into two, and 10 Battalion (Commando) was raised. In 1969, both these units were re-designated as 9 Para (Commando) and 10 Para (Commando). 

The year, 1978 saw another addition to the roll of honour. 1 Para (Punjab) was converted to 1 Para (Commando).

As the Para Commando battalions grew in stature, they grew in numbers. Today, Indian Army Para Special Forces stand at nine battalions strong. 1 Para SF, 2 Para SF, 3 Para SF, 4 Para SF, 9 Para SF, 10 Para SF, 11 Para SF, 12 Para SF and 21 Para SF complete this pantheon of devils. The Para SF battalions which are highly trained and skilled mostly operates in the shadows. Very rarely do we hear their names mentioned in the media.

Compiled through Open Sources.


  • Shantanu K. Bansal

    Founder of IADN. He has more than 10 years of experience in research and analysis. An award winning researcher, he writes for the leading defence and security journals, think-tanks and in-service publications. He is a senior consultant at the Indian Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Shimla. Contact him at: Shantanukbansal2@gmail.com

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