Dogs can be great stress-busters. And they are proving exactly that for soldiers of 44 Rashtriya Rifles who have found comfort in the company of two-year-old Rosh, a labrador whose ever-bubbling energy provides an instant relief after a hard day of patrolling.
Rosh is among the six mute sentinels who have been keeping pace with their soldier-friends of the 44 unit of Rashtriya Rifles, an anti-militancy force carved out of regular Army units.
Rosh, Tapi and Clyde have been deployed with the unit which keeps a vigil on sensitive areas of south Kashmir, covering Lassipura in Pulwama, Imam Saheb and Shopian town.
Performing with aplomb, the canines have been helping the troops in locating improvised explosive devices, chasing violent mobs or tracking fleeing terrorists.
Col A K Singh, who heads the 44 RR, feels that the canine squad has played an important role in many anti-militancy operations and averted many incidents that could have led to causalities of security forces.
Ruffling Rosh, Col Singh said that he is “one of our celebrities” as he had successfully caught a wanted Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist last year, about 1.5 km away from the site of an encounter.
Recalling the incident, Col Singh said that the encounter took place in Dragar village in Shopian during night and the unit could neither ascertain the number of terrorists nor gauge their exact location.
“After the first light, a search party identified two terrorists and a blood trail. We immediately deployed Rosh, who has high standards of training and handling, and the search began as he had picked up the scent.
“Moving through a rough and dense orchard, Rosh kept effectively following the terrorist even after the blood trail became almost invisible…and suddenly he jumped on a thick pile of twigs where the third terrorist was hiding,” Col Singh recalled.
After the operation was over, the third terrorist was identified as Abid Manzoor Magray alias Sujju Magray, who was the commander of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen terror group and wanted in many cases, he said.
Rosh has also received a commendation card from the Northern Army chief on this year’s Army Day.
Some of the Army personnel pat the canines while others throw a ball or offer biscuits for a great job done by them during an anti-militancy operation — detecting explosives or alerting troops about suspicious movements.
Soldiers devote a considerable free time of theirs to their canine “colleagues” who keep a watch when the personnel sleep in their accommodation or walk down the roads which could be mined by terrorists.
The army officials have been taking care of these soldiers with great enthusiasm. Not to forget the picture of Lt Gen K J S Dhillon, at present the Director General Defence Intelligence Agency, who returned a salute by “Meneka” outside the Amarnath cave shrine after she had sniffed the path to the holy place for possible explosives.
A large number of these canines have been awarded gallantry medals for their role in counter-terrorism operations.
Mansi, a four-year-old Labrador and a member of the army’s tracker dog unit, was the first canine to have been selected for a posthumous war honour.
Mansi was honoured with the ‘Mention of Despatches’ certificate. Her name appears in the Gazette of India for making supreme sacrifice for the nation.
She, along with her handler, had a successful season in 2015 with three kills to their credit. They were involved in the killing of a terrorist at Kaisuri ridge in the Tangdhar area, followed by the gunning down of two militants on July 21, 2015.