K. Prasad Babu, a Greyhounds Inspector who laid down his life combating Maoists in the Andhra Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border region last April was awarded the highest peace time gallantry award, Ashok Chakra, on the occasion of Republic Day.

The medal was presented to Babu’s father Karanam Venkataramaiah who had come from their native Marturu village in Visakhapatnam.

Thirty three-year-old at the time of his death, Babu played a key role in eliminating nine top cadre Maoists and holding another 200 at bay injuring several others in two successive encounters in Sukma region, the second one being his last.

Next day, the helicopter made five aerial sorties to evacuate the commandos. However, just before it could make its last sortie for evacuating the last 19, the chopper was attacked by a group of over 100 men. While 14 commandos boarded the helicopter, five including Babu took positions and began retaliatory fire.

As the helicopter left, more reinforcements came for the Maoists who surrounded the commandos and started hurling grenades as well as attacking with other weapons. Sensing danger to the lives of other commandos, Babu urged the commandos to retreat in South direction and held the Maoists single-handedly until everyone reached a safe zone.

Even as he was injured and low on ammunition, Babu kept fighting till his last breath.

He thus managed to save four lives at the cost of his own.

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