Colonel Bikumalla Santosh Babu, the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar regiment who led from the front against the Chinese attack in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley in June last year, was on Tuesday posthumously awarded Mahavir Chakra by President Ram Nath Kovind for displaying exemplary courage during the hand-to-hand combat.
Four other soldiers, Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren, Havildar (Gunner) K Palani, Naik Deepak Singh and Sepoy Gurtej Singh, who also laid down their lives valiantly fighting the Chinese troops in the clash on June 15 last year, have been honoured with the Vir Chakra posthumously.
Havildar Tejinder Singh of the 3 Medium Regiment, who was part of the Indian Army team at Galwan Valley clash and survived the combat, has also been conferred with the Vir Chakra award.
While Mahavir Chakra is the second highest wartime gallantry award after the Param Vir Chakra, Vir Chakra is the third highest in the order.
Naib Soren's wife Laxmi Mani Soren, Havildar Palani's wife Vanathi Devi and Naik Singh's wife Rekha Singh received the awards from the President.
Sepoy Gurtej Singh's mother Prakash Kaur and father Virsa Singh received the Vir Chakra.
In total, the President, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces, conferred one Mahavir Chakra (posthumous), six Kirti Chakras (five posthumous), 10 Vir Chakras (eight posthumous) and 15 Shaurya Chakras (nine posthumous) in two separate ceremonies at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.
Those who were conferred with Kirti Chakras posthumously are Subedar Sanjiv Kumar of the Parachute Regiment, Abdul Rashid Kalas of J and K police, Pintu Kumar Singh and Shyam Narain Singh Yadava and Vinod Kumar (all three from CRPF).
Rahul Mathur, Deputy Commandant of the CRPF, was also awarded the Kirti Chakra.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Modi urged people to read more about those who have been conferred the gallantry awards.
"Attended Defence Investiture Ceremonies today. I urge our fellow citizens to read more about those who have been conferred the Gallantry Awards. Their heroism will inspire you all. These are outstanding individuals who have put duty before everything else. India is proud of them," he said.
The government had announced the gallantry awards for the Galwan 'bravehearts' earlier this year.
Twenty Indian Army personnel had laid down their lives in the fierce hand-to-hand combat in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley clash, an incident that marked the most serious military conflict between the two sides in decades.
In February, China officially acknowledged that five Chinese military officers and soldiers were killed in the clashes with the Indian Army though it is widely believed that the death toll was higher.
Col Babu's award citation said he was deployed in Galwan Valley during Operation Snow Leopard and was tasked to establish an observation post.
It said while organising and briefing his troops about the situation with a sound plan, he successfully executed the task.
"While holding the position his column faced stiff resistance from the adversary who attacked using lethal and sharp weapons along with heavy stone pelting from adjoining heights," it said.
"Undaunted by the violent and aggressive action by the overwhelming strength of enemy soldiers, the officer in the true spirit of service before self, continued to resist the enemy's attempt to push back Indian troops," the citation said.
It said despite being "grievously injured, Col Babu led from the front with absolute command and control despite hostile conditions to deter the vicious enemy attack at his position."
"In the skirmish that broke out and ensuing hand to hand combat with enemy soldiers, he valiantly resisted the enemy attack till his last breath, inspiring and motivating his troops to hold ground," it said.
The citation noted that Col Babu displayed exemplary leadership, astute professionalism and conspicuous bravery and made supreme sacrifice for the nation.
Naib Subedar Soren's citation said he led his column and resisted the enemy's attempt to push back the Indian soldiers while establishing an observation post.
He organised his column, countered the adversary forcefully and stopped them in their attempt to push back Indian troops.
"During the skirmish, he was viewed as a daunting leader and was targeted by the enemy soldiers with lethal and sharp weapons. Being grievously injured when asked to move back, as a true leader he refused, in spite of being heavily outnumbered by the enemy soldiers," it said.
Havildar Palani's citation said stood bravely and tried to defend his comrades even when the enemy attacked him with a sharp weapon.
"In a close hand to hand fight he fought valiantly and saved his subordinates from the aggressive action of the enemy soldiers," it said.
"Suddenly, the adversaries outnumbered and encircled him, with utter disregard to his personal safety, he stood bravely and tried to defend his comrades even when the enemy attacked him with sharp weapon injuring him seriously," it added.
The citation said his act of valour inspired other fellow soldiers to fight fiercely and resist enemy aggression. In spite of his grievous injuries, he continued to hold his ground resolutely and laid down his life for the motherland, it noted.
Naik Deepak Singh, who too belonged to the 16 Bihar regiment and was performing duties as a nursing assistant, played a pivotal role in rendering treatment and saving the lives of more than 30 Indian soldiers, according to his award citation.
Sepoy Gurtej Singh, who was from the third battalion of the Punjab regiment, successfully spotted the enemy troops while establishing the observation post.
"In the ensuing clash, the enemy soldiers used lethal weapons and heavily outnumbered own troops. Sep Gurtej Singh displayed undaunted bravery, raw courage and exceptional combat skills in resisting the enemy troops in a fierce hand to hand combat," his award citation said.
"He himself got seriously injured. However, with utter disregard to his personal safety, he continued to fight the enemy valiantly and also extricated own injured troops, thereby saving a number of fellow soldiers of his patrol party before making the supreme sacrifice," it noted.
Several other armed forces personnel were also honoured at the ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Notable among them was the Shaurya Chakra awarded posthumously to Major Anuj Sood of the 21st Battalion, Rashtriya Rifles.
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