Today observes the second birthday, Pulwama avenger, Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, SC is not alive to celebrate. The young army Major had spent the prime of his youth fighting the radical terrorism menace plaguing the Kashmir valley. He lived by the sword and died by the sword, a hero, a warrior, having avenged the dastardly Pulwama terror attack, by eliminating key Jaish-e Mohammed (J-e-M) members involved in the IED blast which claimed the lives of over 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel on 16 February 2019, earning him the coveted Shaurya Chakra, albeit posthumously.
His wife, Nitika Dhoundiyal, left a lucrative job as an IT professional in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), in order to follow her husbands footsteps and live the way of the warrior; beginning her grueling training at the officers training academy (OTA), Chennai, which was also the Major's alma mater. This short profile is an effort to keep the memory of the fallen officer alive, in the hearts and minds of the members of fraternity he served in, with distinction, living up to the Indian Army's motto of 'Service before self', an ethos deep entrenched in the organisations DNA!
The Olive Greens was his Passion:
Major Dhoundiyal was born in Dehradun in Uttarakhand, a part of the country known for its contribution of soldiers to the Indian Army. He was near the olive greens all his life, with both his father and grandfather having worked in the office of Controller of Defence Accounts. Donning the uniform had been Major Dhoundiyal’s ambition.
He had given the National Defence Academy (NDA) examination after his 12th boards but was unable to clear it. He had gone on to write the Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) after his graduation intending to train at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun. However, he was unable to clear it in that attempt
Undeterred Major Dhoundiyal persisted and was finally selected to join the prestigious Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai. Following nine months of rigorous training at OTA, Vibouti Dhoundiyal was commissioned as a freshly minted Lieutenant into the Army’s Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) on 17 June 2011.
Rashtriya Rifles & Post Pulwama Ops:
After a few years in his parent unit, Major Dhoundiayal went on deputation to the Army’s premier counter-insurgency outfit the Rashtriya Rifles, serving in its 55th battallion. His stint in 55 RR, gave him extensive counter-insurgency experience and transformed Major Dhoundiyal into a battle-hardened combat leader. The Rashtriya Rifles were on high alert following the Pulwama terror attack, with a massive counter-terrorism effort launched to capture the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
Security forces operating in the valley received actionable intelligence the day after the Pulwama bombing about the presence of terrorists in Pinglan village of Pulwama district. Based on the intelligence inputs 55 RR along with the Special Operation Group (SOG) of the J&K Police launched a search and destroy operation at the home of the terrorist, who had attacked the CRPF convoy.
Major Dhoundiyal was part of the assault team spearheaded by Brigadier Harbir Singh, a senior army officer. The team zeroed in on the extremists’ location, upon being challenged, the terrorists opened fire on the assault team halting their movement. The counter-terror operation was intense lasting for over 20 hours finally resulting in several hardcore terrorists, who were responsible for the attack on CRPF convoy being killed.
However, during the heavy exchange of fire, came at a cost, eleven personnel from the assault team got injured, including the leader of the group, Brigadier Singh. The injured soldiers were immediately evacuated to the Army Hospital; however, it was too late.
Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal and three of his men, sepoy Ajay Kumar, Hari Singh, and Havaldar Sheo Ram succumbed to their injuries. Major Dhoundiyal’s wife, family and colleagues, remember the martyred army major, as a valiant army officer who always led from the front. His uncompromising service to bring the perpetrators of a national tragedy that is still fresh in the minds of the people have earned him the Shaurya Chakra on the nations 73rd independence day, in 2019.