Colonel Prakash Bhatt (Retd)
In my previous articles I had related the operations of 1 NAGA during the Liberation of Bangladesh and OPERATION VIJAY(Kargil). After 1 NAGA had been raised and tempered, there was an addition in the Naga Regiment family when 2NAGA was raised on 11 Feb 1985 at Haldwani, Uttarakhand by Lt Col(later Brig) PS Sejwan. During its initial tenures the unit trained hard and soon transformed into a seasoned fighting outfit. In recognition of its achievements in such a short period, the unit was presented the’ Colours’ by General VN Sharma, PVSM, AVSM, Chief of the Army Staff on 10 May 1990 at the Kumaon Regimental Centre, Ranikhet. In this article it will be my endeavour to recount the various operations in which 2 NAGA participated.
In 1994 the unit was deployed on the Line of Control(LC) in Keran Sector(J&K). Immediately after its arrival, the unit was baptized with fire when a Company of NAGAS was tasked for a crossLC fire-assault on an enemy post. The company conducted the fire-assault at day break whereby enemy was completely surprised and it returned successfully from the mission without suffering any casualty. Havaldar(later Sub) Joseph Chang Anal, Vir Chakra, an ace marksman destroyed a number of enemy bunkers with his Rocket Launcher. Hewas conferred the Vir Chakra for displaying exceptional valour. The unit’s performance in this operation surpassed all expectations and stories of its exploits spread even to the enemy camp, making the Pakistanis believe that special forces had been inducted by the Indian Army. A leading Pakistani English daily even published a report that Indian Army had inducted ‘Head Hunters’ in the Keran Sector(the Naga Regiment is also popularly known by its nickname ‘Head Hunters’). Later during its tenure in Keran Sector, the interdiction effected by the unit paralysed the Neelam Valley Road, the life line of the Pakistan Army opposite 2 NAGA, whereby restricting their movement only at night. In recognition of its operational achievements in the Keran Sector, the Unit was awarded its maiden COAS’ Unit Citation in 1996.
In June 1999,2 NAGA again got the opportunity to be deployed in Kashmir Valley to combat Kashmiri Militancy. It had hardly been a month after inductionin Pattan in Baramula Dist(J&K) when Charlie Company of Nagas conducted a cordon and search operation in Saru Dangarpur area. In this operation the Head Hunters killed four dreaded terrorists,one of whom carried a reward of four lakh rupees on his head. In this operation the unit lost two bravehearts; Naib Subedar Balwant and Havaldar Rikhu Yimchunger who were fatally wounded during the fire fight. Havaldar Rikhu Yimchunger was posthumously awarded the SenaMedal for his conspicuous bravery during the operation.
2 NAGA had been deployed in the Kashmir Valley barely for a month, however in the wake of OP VIJAY the unit was inducted into Dras Sector on 27 Jun 99. After only seven days of acclimatization the unit was tasked to capture TWIN BUMP, which was part of Point 4875 feature and dominated the Srinagar-Leh highway. The attack by the NAGAs on TWIN BUMP was to relieve the pressure on 8 SIKH which was tasked to attack TIGER HILL.The Attack was successful and Point 4875 was captured by 2 NAGA on 07Jul 99 forcing the Pakistanis to withdraw from both TIGER HILL and PT 4875.In a conversation with Brig(then Col) DK Badola, YSM (Retd) the Commanding Officer of 2 NAGA in OP VIJAY, he shared that news about NAGA’s combat prowess had spread far and wide, as such GOC 8 Mountain Division without hesitation tasked the Nagas for the Attack albeit their inadequate acclimatization. Brig(then Col) DK Badola, YSM (Retd) was conferred with the ‘Yudh Seva Medal’ for his inspiring leadership in OPVIJAY .
On 08 Jul 99 to exploit the enemy losses, a special patrol was launched under Capt(now Col) DKS Sharawat, VrC, VSM to conduct aRaidon an enemy mortar position. Sepoy(now Subedar) Imliakhum Ao of the assault groupwas assigned the task to silence the sentry. The young Naga soldier approached the outer perimeter sentry with absolute stealth and with one stroke of the ‘Dah’ killed the sentry and soon thereafter killed the second sentry.After the successful silencing of the sentries the assault group stormed the mortar position, killing four Pakistani soldiers and also captured three 120mm mortars, two 81mm mortars and a large stockpile of ammunition. Elimination of the Sentrywas the most critical factor for the success of the raid, and Sepoy (Now Subedar) Imliakhum Aowas conferred the Mahavir Chakra, the second highest Gallantry Award for his exemplary courage. He is also the only living recipient of Maha Vir Chakra in Nagaland State.The Patrol leader, Capt(now Col) DK Sherawat was conferred the Vir Chakra for his courageous leadership during the raid.
In OP VIJAY the Battalion accomplished its tasks, a feat which would not have been possible without the supreme sacrifice of its martyrs whose contributions will ever be remembered. The unit personnel were awarded one Maha VIr Chakra(MVC),one Vir Chakra(VrC), and two Sena Medals for displaying valour. The Battalion was also conferred with Battle Honours ‘Mushkoh’ and Theatre Honours ‘Kargil’ for its meritorious performance in OP VIJAY.
In its short journey the feats of the unit have been etched in golden letters in the annals of history of the Indian Army. It is now a proud recipient of two COAS Unit Citations, three Army Commanders Unit Citations and a Governor’s Plaque of Appreciation. In the field of sports its boxers and archers have excelled at the National and International levels. In 2008, 2 NAGA was selected to serve in the United Nations Mission in Sudan(UNMIS) along with other Indian Army units. In recognition of its commendable performance in UNMIS it was awarded the UN Force Commanders Unit Citation.
The Naga Regiment fraternity has grown from strength to strength and now 3 NAGA and 164 Infantry Battalion(Territorial Army)(Home & Hearth) have joined the family. On eve of the Golden Jubilee of the Naga Regiment we wish many more feathers to adorn its cap in the years to come.
(The Author is a former Deputy Commandant of Kumaon Regimental Centre, Ranikhet and former Additional DIG Assam Rifles(Nagaland) and has served extensively in Nagaland. He is also a recipient of gallantry award of Mention-in-Dispatches in IPKF. The views expressed in this account are his personal)
The Images of Valour and Triumphs – History of the Kumaon and Naga Regiments.
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