New Delhi (India), May 10: Battalions of the Assam Rifles are well-known for their valour and self-sacrifice, but the story of an operation undertaken by 7 Assam Rifles is the most inspiring of them all. Operation Dudhi undertaken during its tenure in Jammu & Kashmir from 1989 to 1990 remains the most successful counterinsurgency operation conducted by any security force till date! The Battalion eliminated an astounding 72 militants and apprehended 13 in this operation. While this monumental feat is a familiar tale within the Assam Rifles now, 30 years later, the accomplishment of its brave soilders is once again being shared with the masses.
During a recent trip to Nepal, Lt Gen PC Nair, AVSM, YSM, DG Assam Rifles, met with some of the surviving members of the hallowed 7th Battalion. It was an emotional moment as some of these icons reflected on their time as stalwarts of the Assam Rifles as also of Operation Dudhi. The legends of operation Dudhi and their veer naris were felicitated on the 31st anniversary of Operation Dudhi, held in Shillong on 09 May 2022, surrounded by their beaming peers and long-standing admirers.
Resembling a tale of mythic proportions, Operation Dudhi will forever remain etched in the annals of Assam Rifles’ history.
Conducted on May 3, 1991, Operation Dudhi was undertaken by a column comprising of a Junior Commissioned Officer and 14 other ranks under the command of Nb/Sub Padam Bahadur Chhetri. The column 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 kilometres away from Battalion Headquarter, the camp was covered in five to six feet of snow.
The staging camp was established on May 4, 1991, and the track towards Dudhi was cleared the same day. The next day, a column of one Junior Commissioned Officer and 14 other ranks began moving towards Dudhi Post. When they were, just one kilometre from the Post, things took a deadly turn. Militants had infiltrated into Indian Territory after crossing the 14,000-foot-high Eagle Pass. They fired at the column, which then conducted a recce and discovered more than 100 militants camping in the area west of the track leading to Dudhi Post.
Despite being greatly outnumbered, troops of the 7th Battalion 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 brave soldiers used tact to surround the enemy who were armed with sophisticated weapons. They then brought down heavy fire on the militants.
The battle lasted for more than six exhausting hours until reinforcements arrived in the form of three columns consisting of one Junior Commissioned Officer and 25 other ranks under Maj A Nigam; one Junior Commissioned Officer and 35 other ranks led by Maj BS Kular; and Maj B Bhattacharjee (RMO) with a medical team.
Maj A Nigam’s column was fired upon near Bari Baihk, but undeterred, it fought through and reached the site of the first encounter. In the fierce fire fight that continued till late at night on May 5/6, two brave hearts Rfn/GD Kameshwer Prasad and Rfn/GD Ram Kumar Arya laid down their lives. One other rank, No. G/75266 Rfn/GD RK Yadav,sustained injuries.
The next 96 hours were used to carry out search operations and sanitization of the general area. A huge cache of an assortment of weapons and ammunition were recovered.
The subsequent 96 hrs were utilised for carrying out Search Operation & sanitization of the Area. Summary of the operation is as under:-
(a) ANEs Killed – 72
(b) Apprehended – 13
(c) Rif AK –47 – 78 Nos
(d) UMG – 07 Nos
(e) RL – 04 Nos
(f) Revolver/Pistol – 13 Nos
(g) Mag AK – 47 – 114 Nos
(h) Pistol – 05 Nos
(j) Mag Pistol – 11 Nos
(k) Gren Stick – 04 Nos
(l) Booster RL – 11 Nos
(m) Drum Mag – 10 Nos
(n) Amn AK – 47 – 8100 Rds
(o) Amn Pistol – 112 Rds
(p) Belted Amn – 1090 Rds
(q) Sight Unit RL – 02 Nos
The 7th Battalion was conferred numerous honours and awards during Operation Rakshak in Jammu & Kashmir. These included 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 Comd Commendation Cards, Chief of Army Staff Unit Citation, and Silver Salver from the Governor J & K.