AS a 22-year-old Company Commander of the Central Reserve Police Force, I was posted in New Sonparam village of Tamenglong district of Manipur in September 1973. On Sundays, I would usually be fasting and devoting time to meditation and prayers. Based on intelligence inputs, operations against Naga insurgents would generally be launched in the wee hours.
On a particular Sunday evening, as I was going through a book, I was informed that my Commanding Officer (CO) based at the district headquarters wanted to speak to me on the wireless set. I rushed to the signal operator’s room. I was briefed by the CO that I should be ready with a platoon to launch an operation in a few hours. Details would follow in a coded message.
Having donned my uniform, I was ready to set out for the operation when I got a message nearly an hour later about the presence of Naga insurgents near the Iril river. It was common knowledge that the insurgents usually took refuge near the river or other water bodies.
Around midnight, we left our base with a few members of the Village Volunteer Force (VVF) who had their camp in close proximity. The VVF comprised local boys, some of whom were insurgents who had surrendered. Having covered about 6 km in complete darkness through the dense forest, we reached the riverbank at the break of dawn. Having got wind of our operation, the insurgents had fled hours before our arrival, as was evident from the ashes in a lone hut where they had cooked their food.
After carrying out an extensive search of the area for over an hour, we called off the operation and took the short route back to our base. A steep climb up the hill almost seeped my energy. As we were nearing the crest, I struggled for every step. Being an officer, I had to put up a brave front and would ask the men to halt for a while to take rest as we had ageing personnel among us. After a long, energy-sapping struggle, we managed to reach Old Sonparam village, where I met the Gaon Bura (village headman) to collect intelligence inputs.
Soon, my men brought boiled eggs with tea. No sooner had I eaten two eggs than I felt rejuvenated. After about half an hour, we were back downhill, at our base. We were almost running back to the Company Headquarters and soon reached there.
We had learnt a lesson. In operational areas, we never know when we would have to set out for long patrols and raids; thus, we needed to be energetic all the time. Fasting can have an adverse impact on your stamina. The magical power of two boiled eggs and tea that revitalised me will always remain etched in my mind.
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