Service No : SS-22536

Service : Army

Last Rank : Captain

Unit : 14 Grenadiers

Arm/Regt : The Grenadiers

Operation : Indo-Pak War 1971

Martyrdom : December 14, 1971

Captain OP Dalal

Captain Om Prakash Dalal joined the army after completing his college education. He got selected for the prestigious OTA Chennai and joined the SS 08 Course. He was commissioned into 14 Grenadiers of the Grenadiers Regiment, an infantry Regiment known for its brave soldiers and having a glorious history of various battle honours. In the very early part of his career, in 1971, Capt OP Dalal got involved in the thick of operations as his unit got deployed on the western border when the war with Pakistan became imminent. 

 

"Battle of Daruchhian" (Indo-Pak War): 13/14 Dec 1971

 

During the Indo-Pak 1971 War, Capt OP Dalal’s unit 14 Grenadiers was deployed on the western front. In December 1971, India had to go to war with Pakistan as the genocide perpetrated by the Pakistani army in their erstwhile eastern part of the country had resulted in an unprecedented influx of millions of refugees into India. Though the war was concentrated on the eastern front, Pakistan launched operations on the western front too. When the war was declared on 03 Dec 1971, 14 Grenadiers Bn under the command of Lt Col Inderjit Singh was functioning under the operational control of 25 Div and was spread all over the Div AOR (Area of Responsibility) from Naushera to Poonch. By the second week of Dec 1971, India had almost achieved victory on the eastern front but the border skirmishes were still going on, on the western front. Capt OP Dalal's unit 14 Grenadiers was involved in operations in the "Battle of Daruchhian" during that period. 

 

After the failure of the Pakistani divisional attack on Poonch, the Indian Army decided to carry out local and limited actions all along the ceasefire line to improve its defensive posture. One such attack was launched by an infantry battalion in the area opposite Madarpur on the night of 10/11 December, and having captured Nangi Tekri, Jungle Tekri, Bump and other features denied the use of the Kotli-Madarpur-Hajira road to the enemy. As a follow-up to these operations, it was decided to secure Daruchhian, a feature blocking the Balnoi neck of the Kotli-Balnoi road between the Poonch River and the ceasefire line. Daruchhian was a conical feature, narrow and rugged at the top and with steep projections. It was forested on all sides except the southwest spur and was reportedly held by less than one Pakistani company of regular troops and some Mujahids as part of the main picquet line. 14 Grenadiers battalion under the command of Lt Col Inderjit Singh was tasked to launch an attack on Daruchhian and it was allotted an additional company and artillery support of four to six fire units.

 

The capture of Daruchhian was planned to be carried out by 0800 hrs on 14 Dec in three phases. It was a multi-pronged attack involving primarily B, C, and D companies of 14 Grenadiers and elements of other outside resources. As per the plan, in Phase-I 'B' Company was to capture OP (Observation Post); in Phase-II 'C' Company was to capture West Spur and in Phase-III 'D' Company was to capture South West Spur. Besides the commanding officer Lt Col Inderjit Singh, Maj HS Chahal ('B' Company Commander), Maj MH Khan ('D' Company Commander), and Capt Hamir Singh('C' Company Commander) as company commanders were involved in planning and executing the operational plan. 'A' Company under the command of Maj SR Dogra was responsible for marking the FUP(Forming up Point) for Pase-I and then acting as a reserve for Phase II. Capt OP Dalal was functioning as one of the Platoon Commanders of "C" Company under the command of Capt Hamir Singh. The attack was launched on the night of 13/14 Dec 1971 in three phases with three assault groups attacking from different directions.

 

In Phase-II of the battle, Capt OP Dalal's company was given orders to move for the attack at around 0100 hrs. Capt OP Dalal and his troops under the command of Capt Hamir Singh captured 2/3rd of the objective very quickly. However, the enemy was determined to retain the post. The enemy pushed back the 'C" Company with counterattacks and firing. There were several counterattacks by the enemy which were repulsed by Capt OP Dalal and his comrades. The enemy gave a very stiff resistance and the battle for Daruchhian continued for over 12 hours. Capt OP Dalal fought valiantly and led his men to give a befitting reply to the enemy firepower. In the fierce exchange of fire, during the battle, a total of eight officers, seven JCOs, and one hundred and forty-five other ranks were martyred, wounded, or missing in action. Later Capt OP Dalal was declared "Killed In Action". But he is believed to have been captured and taken prisoner, as his body was never found.

 

However, confusion continued to persist about his death, as some of the Prisoners Of War (POW) lodged in a Pakistani jail, were later informed about the presence of Capt OP Dalal in Pakistani Jail.  Pakistan, however never acknowledged the presence of Capt OP Dalal in a Pakistani jail. Presently, Capt OP Dalal’s name features on the official list of the ’54 Personnel Missing in Action, tabled in the Lok Sabha in 1979 by the then Minister of State of External Affairs Shri Samarendra Kundu. 

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