Havildar Rajesh Kumar of 11th Battalion, Rajputana Rifles, who laid down his life battling terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, has been awarded the Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award on the occasion of Republic Day.

He is on top of the list that includes six Kirti Chakras, two of them for the sister-brother duo Rukhsana Kosser and Ajaz Ahmed, who killed a militant to protect their family.

Havildar Rajesh Kumar, who belonged to the Ghatak team was on a search mission in the dense forest of Kupwara district of J&K and during operations killed three terrorists.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil will confer the Ashok Chakra posthumously on Havildar Rajesh Kumar before the start of Republic Day Parade at Rajpath on Tuesday. She will also confer Ashok Chakra on Major Mohit Sharma (posthumous) and Major D. Sreeram Kumar, who were awarded on the eve of Independence Day.

Major Mohit Sharma from 1 Para (Special Forces) was killed in a battle with terrorists in Hafruda forests in J&K during March last year while Major Kumar killed 12 terrorists in counter-insurgency operations in the northeast.

Names of four Marine Commandos (MARCOs) deployed on counter-insurgency operations in J&K also figure in the list and includes a Shaurya Chakra to Petty Officer Chandrashekar who lost his life while rescuing a wounded buddy even whilst returning offensive fire and killing a terrorist. The other three — Lt. Vikas Dahiya, Leading Seaman Yaimachoul Singh and Leading Seaman Jaidev have been awarded Nausena Medal (Gallantry).

This year, the President approved 442 gallantry awards and other defence decorations to Armed Forces personnel and others. This includes one Ashok Chakra, 6 Kirti Chakras, 26 Shaurya Chakras, 3 Bar to Sena Medals (Gallantry), 118 Sena Medals (Gallantry), 3 Nao Sena Medals (Gallantry), 3 Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry), 28 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 4 Uttam Yudh Seva Medals, one Bar to Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, 50 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 16 Yudh Seva Medals, 2 Bar to Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty), 38 Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty), 8 Nao Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty), 14 Vayu Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty), 2 Bar to Vishisht Seva Medals and 119 Vishisht Seva Medals .

In addition, 19 Mention-In-Despatches have also been announced for participating in different operations like Op Rakshak, Op Meghdoot, Op Hifazat and Op Rhino.

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