Down Memory Lane As ‘Daring Ninth’ Prepare To Mark 25th Raising Day - Eastern Mirror
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Down memory lane as ‘Daring Ninth’ prepare to mark 25th raising day

By Ashikho Pfuzhe Updated: Mar 01, 2024 12:45 am
Daring Ninth
Late OP Rathore (green fatigue) along with Liremo Lotha inspecting the ‘Daring Ninth’ camp at Barsoor in 2006. (Photo courtesy Nagaland Police)

DIMAPUR — Eighteen years after the 9th Nagaland Armed Police (Indian Reserve) blazed a trail in the heart of the Naxal-infested jungles of Chhattisgarh, the battalion is all set to celebrate its 25th Raising Day on March 1.

As hectic preparations were on at the battalion’s headquarters at Saijang in Peren district, Eastern Mirror takes a trip down memory lane, recalling the exploits of the battalion outside the state.

It was on June 20, 2005 that the 9 NAP (IR), which earned the moniker ‘Daring Ninth’ after the battalion’s tough posture against insurgents, left Nagaland for their first duty outside the state. During their two-year stint in Chhattisgarh, the naxalites were put on the backfoot after hundreds of their cadres were killed and scores of their camps busted by the Naga jawans.

Daring Ninth
VZ Angami (centre) before an operation in Chhattisgarh, 2006. (Photo courtesy Nagaland Police)

“After we left in 2007, I was told that the Chhattisgarh Police was enforcing the standard operation procedure (SOP) of the 9 IRB (NAP) which we modified during our stay in Bastar region. They had even given the name ‘Naga SOP’ or ‘Naga Formation’ to our modified SOP,” recalled Liremo Lotha, the first commandant to lead the ‘Daring Ninth’ in Chhattisgarh.

Liremo has since retired as ADGP (Prison).

The then deputy commandant of 9 IRB and present IGP (IR), VZ Angami explained that the ‘Naga formation’ is the reverse of the conventional ‘Spearhead formation.’

“Instead of the spearhead formation, we invented the ‘Y’ formation and found that this was more effective in detecting mines and cutting down casualty. During our time, all forces coming to Chhattisgarh were imparted training on the ‘Y’ or ‘Naga’ formation during induction.”

VZ Angami also said that the 9 IRB modified certain procedures of the SOP to suit the local conditions.

“Situation during those times was such that any operational duty was very dangerous as we were operating in a hostile terrain and topography. Sometimes in the thick forests, it becomes difficult to find our way back to the camp. Added to these were the ever-present danger of landmines,” Liremo said.

Recalling their operations in the naxal-infested forests of Bastar and surrounding areas, he said that for the Naga jawans, every day was like living life of the edge. He, however, lauded his officers and jawans for proving their efficiency and capability, both within and outside the conflict zone.

Citing one such instance, Liremo said the ‘Daring Ninth’ gradually converted its camp, earlier an abandoned hydro-electric project situated in the middle of thick forests near the banks of the Indravati River, into a virtual fortress.

Daring Ninth
The ‘Daring Ninth’ personnel with ‘Salwa Judum’ volunteers in the thick of Raipur forests, 2006.  (Photo courtesy Nagaland Police)

“Besides the bunkers and trenches, we even constructed ‘morungs’ (traditional Naga dormitories) and Naga kitchens. The then Chhattisgarh DGP, late OP Rathore, was so impressed with our camp that he instructed his officers to learn from the Naga jawans on how to develop their police camps,” he maintained.

The ‘Daring Ninth’ was also declared the best contingent during the Republic Day parade at Raipur in 2006.

For VZ Angami, the most memorable experience was the six-day ‘Operation Greenhorn,’ which took them to new terrain.

“The terrain and the Bhairamgarh Reserved Forest were totally new to us. We survived a dozen of landmine blasts and while returning to our camp, we had to climb a mountain to avoid landmines. But halfway climbing the mountain, suddenly it rained boulders and rocks nearly killing the advance party as the Maoists were up there on top of the mountain,” he recalled.

Meanwhile, Commandant of 9 NAP (IR), Vikulto John informed Eastern Mirror that the 9 IR, being the first Naga IR battalion, is planning to commemorate the anniversary in a befitting manner. Besides coming out with souvenir and mementos, a jubilee park will also be unveiled at the battalion’s headquarters.

John said that they have invited state DGP Rupin Sharma to be the special guest. Invitations have also been extended to all former commandants of the battalion including the raising commandant L Bendang Lemtur.

Number 9 and the battalion 

Call it a coincidence, but for those who believe in numerology, the association of the number nine with the ‘Daring Ninth’ is almost inevitable.

According to battalion records, after receiving orders to tackle the naxal menace in Chhattisgarh, the advance party of the 9 IRB (NAP) consisting of a company along with all logistics and ration left Nagaland on June 20, 2005 (2+2+5 = 9) enroute Chhattisgarh by road in a convoy of 63 (6+3=9) vehicles. The convoy finally reached the IRB camp at Barsoor in Dantewada district on June 28 after a 9-day road journey. The rest of the battalion personnel, who travelled by train, arrived Barsoor on July 9, 2005.

The Naga battalion launched one of its most successful operations against the naxals on August 29, 2005. Codenamed ‘Operation Greenhorn’, scores of naxalites were killed, hundreds captured and huge haul of arms seized by the 9 IRB jawans.

On April 6, 2006, the battalion suffered heavy casualty in a landmine blast during an operation in the thick jungles. Nine IRB jawans were killed and another nine injured in the blast. Recalling the tragedy, a former officer said that when the bodies were being retrieved, they found out that the watch of one of the slain jawans stopped exactly at 9 o’clock, while that of another stopped at 9.09 o’clock, indicating that the blast took place between 9.00-9.09 am.

In 2017, the Ministry of Home Affairs awarded the Antik Suraksha Seva Padak (medal) to the 999 personnel of the battalion in recognition of their exemplary duty.

And the last, the 9 IRB (NAP) was raised in the year 1999.  

By Ashikho Pfuzhe Updated: Mar 01, 2024 12:45:04 am
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