Srinagar: Eight surviving personnel of the 7th Battalion Assam Rifles, who had killed 72 insurgents and captured 13 others alive in a single operation in Jammu and Kashmir 30 years ago, were on Monday felicitated by the para-military force in Shillong, Defence officials said on Monday night.
The news agency quoting the Indian army spokesperson said, “Operation Dudhi, conducted on May 5, 1991, was undertaken by a column consisting of a Junior Commissioned Officer and 14 other ranks under the command of Subedar Padam Bahadur Chhetri”.
In the fierce gunfight that continued till late at night on May 6 (1991), two Riflemen — Kameshwer Prasad and Ram Kumar Arya — laid down their lives while Rifleman R.K. Yadav sustained bullet injuries. It was the largest and most successful counter-insurgency operation in India ever, the report said quoting the spokesperson.
The surviving personnel and the family members of those killed were flown in Shillong and the Director-General of Assam Rifles Lt. Gen P.C. Nair, felicitated them for the act of valour. During a recent trip to Nepal, Lt. Gen Nair met with some of the surviving members of the hallowed 7th Battalion.
“On May 5, 1991, the column of the Assam Rifles moved from Battalion Headquarter, Chowkibal, for a routine patrol to check the winter vacated post of Dudhi with the staging camp established at Bari Baihk. Located about 13 km away from the headquarter, the camp was covered in five to six feet of snow. When they were just 1 km from the Post, things took a deadly turn. Militants infiltrated into Indian territory after crossing the 14,000-foot-high Eagle Pass. They fired at the Assam Rifles column, which then conducted a recce and discovered more than 100 militants camping in the area west of the track leading to Dudhi Post,” the spokesman narrated.
“Despite being greatly outnumbered, troops of the para-military were unfazed. On the contrary, it only firmed their resolve to eliminate the militants. Equipped with only 7.62 mm self-loading Rifles and a Light Machine Gun, the forces personnel used tact to surround the militants, who were armed with sophisticated weapons, and then brought down heavy fire on the militants.”
The battle lasted for more than six hours until reinforcements arrived in the form of three columns consisting of one Junior Commissioned Officer and 25 other ranks under Major A. Nigam, one Junior Commissioned Officer and 35 other ranks led by Major B.S. Kular and Major B. Bhattacharjee (RMO) with a medical team. Major A. Nigam’s column was fired upon near Bari Baihk, but undeterred, it fought through and reached the site of the first encounter. The gunbattle continued till late at night on May 6, the news report said.
The next 96 hours were used to carry out search operations and sanitisation of the general area. A huge cache of an assortment of weapons and ammunition were recovered, the spokesman added.
The 7th Battalion of Assam Rifle subsequently was conferred numerous honours and awards including two Kirti Chakras, one Shaurya Chakra, one Vishisht Seva Medal, 10 Sena Medals, one President Police Medal for Distinguished Service, three Governor’s Gold Medal, 12 Governor’s Silver Medal, four COAS Commendation Cards, 41 DGAR Commendation Cards, 23 GOC-in-C Northern Command Commendation Cards, Chief of Army Staff Unit Citation, and Silver Salver from the Governor JK.