Assam Rifles honours surviving soldiers of India’s most successful counter-insurgency operation

Naib Subedar Padam Bahadur Chhetri and 14 others killed 72 extremists, captured 13 others at 14,000 ft in J&K on May 5, 1991

May 09, 2022 06:17 pm | Updated 06:17 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Assam Rifles honoured the Bravehearts of Operation Dudhi on the occasion of its 31st anniversary at Shillong, Meghalaya. Photo: Twitter/@official_dgar

Assam Rifles honoured the Bravehearts of Operation Dudhi on the occasion of its 31st anniversary at Shillong, Meghalaya. Photo: Twitter/@official_dgar


The paramilitary Assam Rifles on Monday felicitated the surviving soldiers of Operation Dudhi, marked in the country’s defence history as India’s most successful counter-insurgency operation more than 30 years ago.

A team of 15 soldiers of the Assam Rifles’ 7th Battalion led by Naib Subedar Padam Bahadur Chhetri had on May 5, 1991, gunned down 72 Pakistan-trained extremists and captured 13 others at 14,000 ft in Jammu & Kashmir.

Two Assam Rifles soldiers — riflemen Kameshwar Prasad and Ram Kumar Arya — died during the six-hour gun battle, while rifleman R.K. Yadav sustained injuries.

“Our Director-General, Lt. Gen. P.C. Nair had met some of the heroes of Op Dudhi during a recent trip to Nepal and thought of felicitating them for their outstanding feat that is yet to be matched. They were honoured in Shillong today [Monday] on the 31st anniversary of Operation Dudhi,” an Assam Rifles spokesperson said.

Meghalaya’s capital Shillong is the headquarters of Assam Rifles, India’s oldest paramilitary force, whose operational control is with the Defence Ministry and administrative control with the Home Ministry.

Since its establishment in 1835, the Assam Rifles has been engaged in countless counter-insurgency operations across the northeast and elsewhere in India. But none has been as “daring and exemplary” as Operation Dudhi undertaken by the 7th Battalion that was posted in Jammu & Kashmir from 1989-1992.

A 15-member column of the 7th Battalion had on May 3, 1991, moved from the battalion headquarters at Chowkibal for a routine patrol to check the winter-vacated post of Dudhi and established a staging camp at Bari Baihk en route on May 4. Located about 13 km from Chowkibal, the camp was covered with five-six feet of snow.

The column began moving towards Dudhi on May 5, a day after clearing the track to the post.

“Militants who had infiltrated into Indian territory after crossing the 14,000-foot-high Eagle Pass started firing at the column when the soldiers were 1 km short of the post,” the Assam Rifles spokesperson said.

The column found out there were more than 100 extremists armed with sophisticated weapons. But instead of retreating, the soldiers used tact to surround the extremists, bringing most of them down with their 7.62 mm self-loading rifles and a lone light machine gun.

The firefight lasted for six hours during the intervening night of May 5 and 6 until reinforcements arrived in the form of three columns with a medical team. The weapons recovered from the slain and captured extremists included 78 AK-47 automatic rifles and seven universal machine guns.

The Assam Rifles used the next 96 hours to carry out search operations and sanitisation of the area.

The 7th Battalion had earlier been conferred numerous honours and awards during Operation Rakshak in Jammu & Kashmir. These included two Kirti Chakras, one Shaurya Chakra, one Vishisht Seva Medal and 10 Sena Medals.

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