Archives

SOURCE: THE PRINT

An entire chapter of the recent NIA chargesheet in the Nagrota Army base attack case is dedicated to the heroics of Dino. It was he who helped the investigating agency find the route taken by three Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists to reach the base on 28 November 2016, and piece together the details of the deadly attack that claimed the lives of seven soldiers.

Dino, a Labrador, is a canine soldier of the Indian Army and a highly-skilled tracker dog. He sniffed the socks of one of the slain terrorists and traced the route they had taken through bushes, right up to the highway about a kilometre away. But Dino is hardly the only one — canine soldiers have always played a crucial role for the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir, tracking down terrorists, sniffing out infiltrators at the LoC, and even alerting troops just before attacks.

Trained breeds

There are over 1,200 trained dogs in Indian Army. These are mainly foreign breeds like German Shepherds, Labradors, Belgian Shepherds and Great Swiss Mountain dogs which are trained by the Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC).

The Army is also inducting indigenous dog breeds like the Mudhol Hound because of their agility, speed and sniffing prowess.

The canines’ bravery has won them battle honours, such as commendations from GOCs and even the Chief of Army Staff.

Desis even more crucial

Desi or local dogs play as crucial a role, not just in guarding army premises in the state, but also in alerting the troops about intruders along the LoC. The same is also true on the other side, so when India carried out surgical strikes on Pakistan-occupied territory in 2016, soldiers splashed leopard urine en route to scare off the dogs.

The forces go out of their way to take care of the desi dogs around the security camps and at the LoC, with the result that almost all the army camps in Jammu and Kashmir are home to a number of desidogs.

“We have our own sniffer and tracking dogs. But the local dogs are our main weapon against possible intrusion,” a senior army official told ThePrint.

A unit like the 44 Rashtriya Rifles, which is famous for neutralising top terrorists like Sameer Tiger and Saddam Padder, maintains about 30 local dogs, mainly Bhutias, in its heavily fortified camp.

When canines saved lives

A prime example of a dog saving personnel’s lives came in June 2017, when a local dog foiled a Lashkar-e-Taiba fidayeen attack on a CRPF camp in Bandipora in north Kashmir. The dog spotted a terrorist cutting the barbed wire to gain entry, and raised the alarm.

The panicked terrorist opened fire without entering the camp, and an alert sentry guard spotted the bullet flashes and shot him dead instantly. More dogs came running, barking and chasing the terrorists into the bushes, where they were neutralised.

All these dogs were fed and taken care of by the CRPF troops.

Personnel also recall the story of Mansi, a four-year-old Labrador who became possibly the first canine to have been selected for a posthumous war honour. Mansi and her handler Bashir Ahmed War laid down their lives to prevent an infiltration bid by terrorists in north Kashmir in 2015.

Mansi was honoured with the ‘Mention of Despatches’ certificate, acknowledging her contribution to the Army. A wreath was laid on her body and her mortal remains were laid to rest at her unit lines at Trehgam in north Kashmir.