Known for their military powers, many Jats were recruited into the British-India Army during World War I. A large number of Jats serve in the Indian Armed Forces and form one of the largest ethnic groups in the army -- The Jat Regiment. The Jat Regiment has refused to part with the Roman numeral IX even though it no longer occupies the its ninth position in the regimental hierarchy unlike in the 1920s.
The Jat Caste is part of the Kashtriya and Vaish Castes and historically, as well as ethnically, part of the same clans as the Rajputs. The Jats are a people of north-western India, who form a considerable proportion of the population in the Punjab, Rajputana and the adjoining districts, and are also widely scattered through Sind and Baluchistan. They enlisted under the banner of Mahommed bin Kãsim, but at a later date offered a vigorous resistance to the Arab invaders. In 836 they were overthrown by Amran, who imposed on them a tribute of dogs, and used their arms to vanquish the Meds. In 1025, however, they had gathered audacity, not only to invade Mansura, and compel the abjuration of the Muslim amir, but to attack the victorious army of Mahmüd, laden with the spoil of Somnath. Chastisement duly ensued: a formidable flotilla, collected at Multan, shattered in thousands the comparatively defenceless Jat boats on the Indus, and annihilated their national pretensions.
The Sikh religion was founded by Baba Guru Nanak (1469-1539), whose prime aim was to increase communal harmony between the Muslims and the Hindus. Initially the Sikhs were confined to the north West Indian region of Punjab (in modern India and Pakistan) and were mostly peasants from the sturdy "Jat" caste.
It is not until the decay of the Mogul Empire that the Jats again appear in history. One branch of them, settled south of Agra, mainly by bold plundering raids founded two dynasties at Bharatpur and Dholpur. Another branch, settled north-west of Delhi, who adopted the Sikh religion, ultimately made themselves dominant throughout the Punjab under Ranjit Singh, and were represented in their original home by the Phulkian houses of Patiala, Jind and Nabha. It was from this latter branch that the Sikh regiments of the Indian army were recruited.
The confusion in the caste system begins by the use of the word caste. The Indians in their different languages use the word 'Jat' for any community who have something common like religion, language, origin, or similar geographical background. The Indians also use the word 'Jat' for Varna. The Portuguese, who were the first European power to arrive in India, distorted the word 'Jat' into caste. The British who arrived to India much later after the Portuguese also used the word caste. The British used the word Caste instead of Jat and Varna.
The Jats, also called Choudhary, occupy a prominent position in Rajasthan being the largest group in this region. They are divided into 12 chief clans and about 230 minor gotras. Though the origin of the Jat tribe is shrouded in mystery, the Jats still betray tribal traits. Agriculture has always been the main occupation of the Jats, but now they are branching out in other fields like military and police. They are also well represented in government civil services. One of the dominating Castes amongst the Punjabis are the Jats. Jats are in the main landlords and farmers and consider themselves to be of a superior stock than any of the so called Untouchable Castes; especially the Chamar Caste which is the dominant Untouchable Caste in the Punjab
The Chief of Army Staff made a special instant award of "Unit Citation" to 17th Battalion, The Jat Regiment for their meritorious and gallant performance during the battles of Whale Back & Pimple I on night 05/06 July and Pimple II on 08 July 1999, in Dras Sector. The unit performed with distinction during Operation "Vijay" and displayed exemplary valour and grit in the face of the enemy.
In December 2001 the Indian Government conferred the benefits of reservation on 90 new backward castes in 16 states. This was in addition to the 116 castes which were included in the list of backward castes in October 2001 and 126 in November 2000. The liberal attitude of the BJP government in granting reservation to any caste that asked for it manifested itself in Rajasthan when the Prime Minister declared Jats a caste eligible for reservation. It was believed to have helped the BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections, particularly when the Congress could not honor its pre-poll promise on this score. The Uttar Pradesh government took its cue from his announcement and declared the Jats in the state a backward caste.
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