Mastana was a goat who forged a path to safety for Indian soldiers during the 1965 India-Pakistan war. His memory is kept alive in the Indian Army today. He is also a hawaldar.
The inclusiveness of the Indian Army is legendary. For people who routinely look death square in the eye, it matters little what colour you are or where you’re from.
Turns out, though, that this camaraderie is also occasionally extended to non-human members.
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This is the story of Mastana, a goat that holds the rank of hawaldar in the Indian Army.
During the 1965 India-Pakistan war, a Indian battalion was trapped in an area that they found out was full of land mines. When they started to pray to Jwala Devi — a fire goddess — a goat appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and skipped through the mine-filled land to reach safely on the other side.
Thus a path was forged for the soldiers, who were able to escape the mine-trap.
They believed the goat to be a messenger from the goddess. They named it Mastana and took it with them.
When Mastana died, they replaced him with another buck, and so it has continued — a long line of Mastanas that goes back to ’65.
Every goat Mastana is automatically promoted to hawaldar.
Photo credit: Roli Pathak
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