In 1990, the situation in many parts of J&K had considerably worsened and additional forces were required. As the situation in the North East was relatively stable, the Central Government decided to use Assam Rifles battalions in J&K. Eight Assam Rifles battalions viz. 3, 7, 10, 18, 21, 23, 26 and 28 were deployed in J&K from April 1990 to January 1998.
This deployment became a golden era for the Force as all the battalions sent to the state, performed creditably. It is a record in itself that out of eight Assam Rifles battalions in J&K, two were awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s Unit Citation and one battalion was awarded the Northern Army Commander’s Unit Appreciation for their superlative performance.
Operations of 26 Assam Rifles
26 Assam Rifles was the first unit of the Force to be deployed in “Operation Rakshak”. On 18 September 1990, based on an information of infiltration by a huge group of Pakistan trained terrorists in general area Talel, the battalion carried out a counter infiltration operation, initially with two companies and later with an additional company. During this operation, Assam Rifles troops tracked the terrorists in thick forests and engaged them in gun battles at different locations.
The battalion’s intelligence cell and interrogation team did a commendable job by extracting useful and accurate information from the apprehended terrorists which led to a series of subsequent operations. One terrorist was killed and 90 Pakistani trained terrorists were apprehended.
The recoveries included 142 sophisticated weapons including rocket launchers, machine guns, 7.62 mm and AK-56 rifles, pistols, along with a very large quantity of ammunition. The battalion also rescued abducted Deputy Superintendent of J&K Armed Police, Shri Puran Chand, after about 75 days of his captivity from village Dara in a joint operation with the Army. 26 Assam Rifles was awarded the Chief of Army Staff Unit Citation as well as a silver salver from the Governor of J&K. The battalion earned 71 awards including a Sena Medal.
Operations of 7 Assam Rifles
7 Assam Rifles operated in J&K from April 1990 to May 1992. This was the time when insurgency was at its peak and the battalion was deployed in a very hostile area. The battalion spent 25 months in J&K, and during that period, in a series of very well planned and coordinated operations, it eliminated 200 hard core terrorists and apprehended a further 222. In addition, 47 terrorists also surrendered to the battalion.
A huge amount of weapons, ammunition and equipment was recovered from the terrorists which included 29 machine guns, 409 rifles, 175 pistols/ revolvers, 28 rocket propelled grenades and over 108,000 rounds of assorted ammunition. In addition, 465 hand grenades, 6 anti-tank mines, 77 anti-personnel mines and many other types of ammunition and explosives were recovered.
The battalion’s achievements were outstanding by any standard. Major General OP Kaushik, VSM, GOC 28 Infantry Division, extolled the unit for being “singularly responsible for eradicating the terrorist influence from Kupwara Sector”. The battalion earned 92 awards including two Kirti Chakras, one Shaurya Chakra, ten Sena Medals and one Vishisht Seva Medal. The battalion also received the Chief of Army Staff Unit Citation as well as a silver salver presented by His Excellency, General KVK Rao (Retd), former COAS and the then Governor of J&K.
Operations of 23 Assam Rifles
23 Assam Rifles operated in J&K from July 1994 till December 1996. The unit was deployed in general area of Bhaderwah Tehsil, in Doda District under HQ 4 Sector. The battalion performed commendably in many operations in which a large number of terrorists were either killed or apprehended. A huge quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from the slain and apprehended terrorists.
The battalion’s biggest catch was on 11 August 1996, when Ashan Ahmed, a self styled Deputy Provincial Chief of Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM) for Jammu Region, the highest ranked militant was killed. This success led to the unconditional surrender of three more terrorists along with their weapons and other incriminating material. The battalion liquidated 19 terrorists and recovered a huge cache of warlike stores during their tenure in J&K.
18 Assam Rifles
18 Assam Rifles played a crucial role in creating an environment in its area of responsibility which enabled the peaceful conduct of the State Assembly elections in J&K. During their tenure, they established excellent rapport with the local population, which enabled them to seize huge quantities of arms and ammunition. Most importantly, they kept their area of operations free from terrorist influence.
3 Assam Rifles
3 Assam Rifles met with outstanding success in the ‘Seek, Encounter and Search’ operationon10-11 August 1996 at Wurapash village in Ganderbal Tehsil. Five hardcore terrorists of which four were Pakistani nationals, were killed. One Pakistani was identified as Mudassar Jat alias Saif of District Bahawalpur (Punjab, Pakistan), who was a Major of the Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence and was working as their commander for Srinagar District.
21 Assam Rifles
21 Assam Rifles carried out their operational responsibility in J&K with commendable zeal and devotion. In the course of various anti terrorists operations conducted, 17 hardcore terrorists were eliminated, of which five were Pakistani nationals. In addition, 26 terrorists were apprehended and six individuals surrendered with their weapons. In the course of these operations, a large quantity of weapons and ammunition were seized in the Kupwara sector.
AR Riflemen had instilled fear into the minds of the Pakistani/Pakistan supported terrorists and their supporters.
In a major operation carried out by the unit, led by Capt Raghuraj Singh of 10 Assam Rifles, codenamed ‘Cloud Burst’, 41 weapons and huge quantity of ammunition were recovered from Guripura village in Kashmir. In addition, 23 terrorists of Jammu and Kashmir Hizbul Mujahideen surrendered before the unit.
10 Assam Rifles
After 38 years of exemplary service in the North East region, 10 Assam Rifles was sent to Jammu and Kashmir in January 1995. It was placed under command 11 Sector Rashtriya Rifles and was deployed at Kangan. Its main task was to dominate the Srinagar-Leh highway, a task which it successfully completed without any casualties. During three years in J&K, the battalion performed outstandingly by killing, capturing many terrorists and seizing large quantities of arms, ammunition, explosives and other warlike stores. Fifteen of its personnel were recipients of gallantry awards, for various operations in which they displayed great valour.
Having seen and written extensively about Assam Rifles since the late 1980s, it was heartening for this writer to read and hear from various sources about the performance of the Assam Rifles battalions sent to J&K. Not surprisingly at all, AR Riflemen had instilled fear into the minds of the Pakistani/Pakistan supported terrorists and their supporters.