Invoking former Afghan ruler who attacked India in 18th century, Taliban raise ‘Panipat’ military unit

WION Web Team
New Delhi Updated: Feb 15, 2022, 10:48 PM(IST)

Taliban military Photograph:( AFP )

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The name of the new military unit draws inspiration from a historical battle that was fought in Panipat city in 1761— referred to as the Third Battle of Panipat—where the Maratha forces were defeated by the then ruler of Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Abdali

In a move that is likely to rile up India, the Taliban announced the formation of a new military unit called the “Panipat operational unit”.

Panipat is a historic city located in India’s northern Haryana state.

The name of the new military unit draws inspiration from a historical battle that was fought in Panipat city in 1761— referred to as the Third Battle of Panipat—where the Maratha forces were defeated by the then ruler of Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Abdali.

Abdali had won the battle, and it is estimated that 60,000–70,000 people were killed in the fighting, while many were taken prisoners.

Kabul-based media website Aamaj News on Friday reported that the new unit will be deployed to the country’s Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan.

The news outlet also shared photographs of masked Taliban fighters in military uniform holding US-made rifles and taking out a parade in Nangarhar's capital Jalalabad.

Historical events like the Panipat are often discussed in religious sermons in rural Afghanistan to gain the people’s sympathies for Muslims in places where they consider them to be in trouble.

Notably, when a Bollywood film inspired by the 18th-century battle, called ‘Panipat’, was released in 2019, a letter from the Afghanistan embassy was sent to New Delhi expressing concerns over how a distorted depiction of the Afghan ruler might hurt the sentiments of people in Afghanistan.

Panipat film had also drawn the ire of the Jat community in Rajasthan, causing theatres in Jaipur to stop screening the film.

(With inputs from agencies)

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