” You said you loved me, but the fact is you loved the nation more.”
– Lt. Nitika Dhoundiyal (wife of late Major Vibhuti Dhoundiyal)
Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal hailed from Dehradun in Uttarakhand and was born on 18 Dec 1987. Son of Shri OP Dhondiyal and Smt Saroj Dhondiyal, Maj Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal had three sisters and was the youngest among his siblings. Maj Vibhuti’s father as well as grandfather had worked in the office of Controller Defense Accounts. Maj Vibhuti had studied at St Joseph School Dehradun and later completed his graduation from DAV college. He was very keen to join the Armed Forces right from his childhood and pursued his dream after graduation. Soon after his graduation, he cleared the Combined Defense Services Examination and was commissioned into the Army on 17 Sep 2011.
By 2019, Maj Vibhuti had put in around eight years of service and had evolved into a committed soldier with fine field craft skills. After serving for a few years with his parent unit, Maj Vibhuti was deputed to serve with 55 RR Battalion, deployed in J & K for counterinsurgency operations. Maj Vibhuti got married to Ms Nitika Kaul belonging to a Delhi-based Kashmiri family on 19th April 2018.
Pulwama Operation: 18 Feb 2019
During 2018-2019, Maj Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal’s unit 55 RR, was deployed in Pulwama district in J&K and was engaged in operations against the militants on a regular basis. Following the terrorists’ attack on the CRPF convoy in Pulwama on 14 Feb 2019, the security forces were maintaining a state of high alert, and subsequently, a massive operation was launched to nab the perpetrators of the attack. On 17 Feb 2019, the security forces received credible information from the intelligence sources about the presence of terrorists in Pinglan village of Pulwama district. Based on the intelligence inputs 55 RR along with the Special Operation Group of J & K Police launched a search and destroy operation in Pinglan a neighborhood of Kakpora the home of the terrorist, who had attacked the CRPF convoy on 14 Feb.
The assault team was being led by Brigadier Harbir Singh himself and Major Vibhuti was part of the team. On being challenged the terrorists opened fire and a fierce gun battle ensued thereafter lasting for over 20 hours. A number of hardcore terrorists responsible for the attack on the CRPF convoy on 14 Feb, were eliminated during the encounter. However, during the heavy exchange of fire, eleven security personnel too got injured including the leader of the team. The injured soldiers were shifted to the Army Hospital but Maj Vibhuti and three other soldiers Sep Ajay Kumar, Sep Hari Singh, and Hav Sheo Ram succumbed to their injuries and were martyred. Maj Vibhuti was a valiant soldier and a fine officer who led from the front and laid down his life in the service of the nation, following the highest traditions of the Indian Army. Maj Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal was given the gallantry award, “Shaurya Chakra” for
his exceptional courage, devotion to duty, and supreme sacrifice.
Later carrying forward the legacy of her husband, Smt Nitika Kaul joined the Indian Army as a commissioned officer in 2021.
We salute Nitika for her immense courage and the manner in which she has faced with tranquility, acceptance and utter poise the most bitter irony of her life and managed her grief so well.
As a tribute to Major Vibhuti Dhoundiyal, I quote from Longfellow’s poem , “ Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.”