'Mansi', a four-year-old labrador and a member of Army's tracker dog unit, has become possibly the first canine to have been selected for a posthumous war honour, after she and her handler Bashir Ahmed War laid down their lives to prevent an infiltration bid by terrorists in north Kashmir.
Mansi was today honoured with the 'Mention of Despatches' certificate. Her name will appear in the Gazette of India for making supreme sacrifice for the nation. War, her handler and a resident of Kupwara, was also posthumously awarded the Sena Medal as he died fighting for the nation while challenging a group of infiltrating militants in Tangdhar, 150 kms from Srinagar.
The duo had had a successful season last year with three kills to their credit. They were involved in the killing of a terrorist at Kaisuri ridge in Tangdhar area, followed by the gunning down of two militants on July 21 last year.
Mansi and Bashir Ahmed War, of the 160 Territorial Army, were gunned down by infiltrating terrorists in August last year when they were posted in the dense forests where terrorist from Pak- occupied-Kashmir made an infiltration bid in Tangdhar sector. Part of the Army's Tracker Dog unit, Mansi sensed a movement and started pulling War towards an area in the high mountainous jungles where the clouds where low.
As Mansi started barking at the intruders, she got shot by an enemy bullet, something which was enough to provoke her handler who started firing relentlessly at the intruders, besides calling for reinforcement. War wanted to avenge the death of his canine friend whose care he had been taking since she joined the tracker unit.
Death could not part them, as War also soon fell to the enemy bullets, but not before the reinforcements had arrived and an operation mounted to kill the infiltrators. Maintaining the highest tradition of Indian army, "when a dog is injured on the battlefield, the army jumps into action in much the same way as it would do in case of an injured soldier. Here we had two casualties, the handler as well as the dog," recalled a senior officer.
Mansi's body was recovered and after documentations and post-mortem, a wreath was laid on her body. The mortal remains of the valiant friend of the Army were laid to rest at her unit lines at Trehgam in north Kashmir.Dogs have been the unsung heroes in the war against terror in Kashmir and have helped the army eliminate many dreaded militants. Their bravery has won them battle honours, ranging from the Chief of Army Staff's commendation cards to the General Officer Commanding's commendation cards.
Dogs attached with different counter-insurgency units have varied responsibilities in Kashmir. For example, trekker dogs are meant to help troops in anti-insurgency operations, guard dogs are responsible for guarding garrisons during the nights, while infantry patrol dogs help in bomb and IED detection.