Interim ATR
25 Mar 1997
Mandu Gala Kashmir
25 March 1997

Based on int collected by bn and sources provided by twenty eight Inf Div about presence of militants. Bn level overt/covert op under I/C-37198A Col SK Sandhu, CO 31 RR (CDO) planned in gen area bounded by sq 4543, 4551, 5543 and 5551 a search and destroy op against five ANEs iden as Abu Haris, Abu Khalid, Hamza, Zubair and Quadir connected to Sangrampora massacre.

Two complementary search and destroy ops planned on three axes.

CO party and all colns reached respective loc by approx 241700h. A Team and C Team formed wide supportive arc in gen area of ops. B Team had str of offr one, JCO two and OR thirty under I/C-48217Y Capt Vyom Pokhriyal and it commenced search and cordon ops by 241720h. After lying doggo for approx 45 mins JC-412257L Nb Sub Bhawani Singh noticed movmt across the nala and warned Capt Vyom Pokhriyal. Moving with great stealth C Team spread across the rocky terrn to take posn behind boulders at approx 1805h.
At about 1815h escaping militants in gp of five on suspicion opened hy effective fire at Capt Vyom Pokhriyal and his party. Capt Vyom Pokhriyal retaliating imdt fired at the militants, injuring lead in the leg.

The militants opened fire with AK, Pika and rocket. Own tps retaliated and a fierce fire fight ensued. One militant was killed at approx 1820h and the gp retreated rapidly up and away from the nala giving them height advantage on own tps. Nb Sub Bhawani Singh displayed tremendous courage and presence of mind and led his party of fifteen in a parallel bracket from the east while Capt Vyom Pokhriyal led his remaining party in arrow line chase uphill under hy fire. Nb Sub Bhawani Singh and his tps crossed and closed in on the militants from the east forcing them downhill.

Capt Vyom Pokhriyal charged ahead without caring for his life and took cover behind a boulder firing from close rg. Trapped between the tps of Nb Sub Bhawani Singh and Capt Vyom Pokhriyal, the lead militant changed course and led his gp downhill towards the west slope. He was killed at approx 1830h by own tps under Nb Sub Bhawani Singh pursuing from the east. The remaining three militants jumped into the nala and escaped into the dense forest on the other side. The two militants killed were iden as Abu Haris and Abu Khalid the leaders of Sangrampora massacre of seven Kashmiri pandits. The escapees are suspected to be their abettors iden as Quadir, Hamza and Zubair.

In view of hy darkness Capt Vyom Pokhriyal took the well thought out decision of calling off the pursuit so as not to endanger his whole team.

Showing exemplary leadership and bravery, Capt Vyom Pokhriyal left his party under control of Nb Sub Bhawani Singh and at approx 1845h proceeded on hot pursuit of the escapees with Sub Devendar Gehlot, Ln Naik Sujit Mahto and Ln Naik Parshuram Thapa not wanting to jeopardise more tps since the escapees are hyly armed and dangerous.
Nb Sub Bhawani Singh and own tps remained dogo and have reported hy gunfire from the dense forests through the ni till approx 0300h. After that there is no report of any gunfire.

At the time of this ATR at 250530 there is no info abt Capt Vyom Pokhriyal or his party. They are now deemed MIA as of 0300h. The CO has ordered an overt search and rescue op at 250545h.
(Extract from dispatches of the CO of 31 RR)

Excerpted with permission from Bite of the Black Dogs, Sanjay Bahadur, Hachette India.