India Appears to Take Jab at China with ‘Bat’ Reference in Army Video

bat via rigel on unsplash
Rigel via Unsplash

The Indian Army posted a video to social media over the weekend honoring the 20 Indian soldiers attacked and killed last week by Chinese border troops in the western Himalayas. The video appears to deliberately insult China with a reference to “bats,” the Times of India (TOIreported on Monday.

On Saturday, the Indian Army’s Northern Command posted on its official Twitter account a video and caption in honor of the fallen soldiers of the 16 Bihar Regiment. The caption reads: “The Saga of #DhruvaWarriors and The Lions of #BiharRegiment. Born to fight. They are not the bats. They are the Batman. After every #Monday, there will be a #Tuesday. Bajrang Bali Ki Jai.”

Most Indian media outlets have interpreted the reference to “bats” as a jab at China. The ongoing Wuhan coronavirus pandemic originated in China last year, as early as August 2019. The first documented outbreak of the virus occurred in the central city of Wuhan, where the earliest cases were linked to a local wet market that sold exotic animals, including bats, for human consumption. Some scientists believe the Wuhan coronavirus can be traced to a strain of coronavirus originally found in bats, with many people initially suspecting the virus made the animal-to-human leap at the Wuhan wet market.

Another theory claims the Wuhan coronavirus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a state laboratory where scientists study strains of coronavirus found in bats. One of the lab’s top virologists, renowned for her expertise on coronaviruses found in bats, was known as “Bat Woman” by colleagues.

In addition to the “bats” reference, the Indian Army’s post also referred to “Monday.” This is significant, as the regiment was most recently attacked last Monday by Chinese border troops, who staged an ambush on the regiment killing at least 20 Bihari soldiers. The attack occurred along the India-China boundary in the Galwan Valley of India’s northeastern Ladakh state. An estimated 40 Chinese troops also died in the brutal hand-to-hand combat.

The post’s caption ends with “Bajrang Bali Ki Jai.” This loosely translates to “Victory to the strong [ones],” which is the regiment’s war cry, according to the Hindustan Times. The caption refers to Biharis as “Lions” because the Bihar Regimental Crest contains the three-headed lions of Ashoka, which are also featured on the state emblem of India.

The video shared by India’s Northern Command pays tribute to the regiment’s long history of military victories and the legendary valor of its “warrior” soldiers. It also honors the 20 fallen soldiers from last week’s attack by China, including the regiment’s commanding officer, Colonel Santosh Babu.

The post was shared on Saturday shortly after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly praised the 16 Bihar Regiment, according to the report. During a video press conference, Modi lauded the unit for its bravery.

“Our country is always proud of our armed forces, but when I am talking today to people of Bihar, I want to proudly mention the valor of the Bihar Regiment. Every Bihari is proud of it,” he said.

Officials of the Bihar Regimental Center reacting to the prime minister’s comments said his commendation was appreciated.

“We want moral support from the people of the country. [The] Bihar Regiment has a glorious past and we will live up to that tradition,” Colonel Hemant Parmar of the Danapur headquarters in Bihar state told TOI.

The British formed the Bihar Regiment in 1941. It has contributed to all major wars fought by the Indian Army since India gained its independence from Britain in 1947. According to the Indian government, the regiment is a highly decorated unit with a long history of military victories, and its soldiers have been recognized for their storied bravery since as far back as the unit’s origins under the British East India Company in 1758.
The British exclusively recruited men from Bihar to form the first iteration of the Bihari regiment, the Bengal Native Infantry, as they were famed for their “valor and strength.” Bihar is a state in east India bordering Nepal.

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