Major Abdul Rafey Khan: A Gallant Leader’s Sacrifice in the 1965 Indo-Pak War


Major Abdul Rafey Khan, a brave officer in the Indian Army, was posthumously awarded the Vir Chakra for his remarkable courage and leadership during the 1965 Indo-Pak War. Born on October 8, 1931, in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, he joined the army at a young age and served with distinction. His valiant actions in the Battle of Butur Dograndi, where he led his battalion with unparalleled determination and ultimately gave his life for his country, remain an inspiring testament to his dedication and sacrifice.

Biography of Major Abdul Rafey Khan

Major Abdul Rafey Khan, a distinguished officer in the Indian Army, was born on October 8, 1931, in Rampur district, Uttar Pradesh, to Shri Abdul Karim Khan. He received his early education at Sherwood College in Nainital, Uttarakhand, and embarked on a remarkable journey as a soldier, ultimately earning the rank of Major.

NameMajor Abdul Rafey Khan
Award / Date of ActionVir Chakra (Posthumous) , 17-09-1965
ServiceIndian Army
Service NumberIC-5823
Unit/Regiments/CorpsGARH RIF
Mother’s NameN/A
Resident Of (Village/District/State/Domicile)KANPUR
War/Operation/Battle1965 Indo-Pak War


Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on December 30, 1951, at the age of 20, Major Rafey Khan was assigned to the 8th Garhwal Rifles battalion of the Garhwal Rifles Regiment. Throughout his 13 years of service, he displayed unwavering dedication, honing his skills as a battle-hardened soldier and an exceptional officer known for leading from the front.

Major Abdul Rafey Khan

As the tensions between India and Pakistan escalated in 1965, Major Abdul Rafey Khan’s unit was deployed in the western sector to deter any Pakistani aggression. It was during this time that the 1965 Indo-Pak War erupted.

In the Battle of Butur Dograndi, which took place from September 10 to 17, 1965, Major Abdul Rafey Khan’s 8 Garhwal Rifles was part of the 43 Lorried Brigade of the 1st Armoured Division. He served as the Second-in-Command of the battalion, with Lt. Col. JE Jhirad as the Commanding Officer.

The battle was a daring daytime assault launched at 12:30 PM. Tragically, during the attack, Lt. Col. JE Jhirad was seriously wounded by enemy shelling. Despite his fatal injuries, Lt. Col. Jhirad’s words of valor inspired the troops: “Nothing can be nobler and finer than to die for this.”

Undeterred by the loss of their commanding officer, Major Khan and his men pressed on. However, due to intense enemy shelling, the battalion became widely dispersed, and communication broke down. Major Khan, sensing an opportunity, personally led the charge to seize the objective. Fierce hand-to-hand combat ensued, and despite initial setbacks, they managed to capture the objective.

The enemy launched a fierce counterattack with tanks and subjected Major Khan’s battalion to intensive air strikes and heavy artillery shelling. Despite these challenges, Major Khan demonstrated exceptional leadership. He ordered his battalion to occupy a defensive position north of Buttur Dograndi, determined to hold their ground.

From September 17, the enemy launched three ferocious counterattacks with armored support, artillery, and air force. Despite being entrenched behind enemy lines, Major Khan’s battalion expected reinforcement. However, the higher military command decided against it, and the battalion was ordered to withdraw as best as they could.

Major Khan, along with a handful of men, the Regimental Medical Officer, and the Intelligence Officer, stayed behind to evacuate casualties. Tragically, Major Khan was fatally wounded by an enemy gunshot while personally loading casualties into a tank.

Major Abdul Rafey Khan was a soldier of unwavering commitment, a determined officer who led from the front, and a true military leader. His gallant actions earned him the Vir Chakra, a testament to his dauntless courage, inspirational leadership, fighting spirit, and supreme sacrifice.

On September 17, 1965, Major Abdul Rafey Khan’s indomitable spirit and devotion to duty were evident as he personally directed the defense against a strong enemy counterattack. His leadership and unwavering commitment resulted in heavy losses for the enemy. Even in the face of impending withdrawal, Major Khan remained in position to evacuate casualties, where he tragically lost his life after being hit by an enemy shell.

In this action, Major Abdul Rafey Khan displayed exemplary courage and devotion to duty, making the supreme sacrifice of his life. His legacy lives on as an inspiration to all who cherish the values of bravery, selflessness, and unwavering commitment to one’s country.


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