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Col. B. Santhosh Babu awarded Maha Vir Chakra

File photo of Col. B. Santosh Babu   | Photo Credit: Singam Venkataramana

Colonel B. Santhosh Babu, Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar deployed in Galwan during Operation Snow Leopard and lost his life along with 19 others in the violent clash with Chinese troops in June, has been posthumously awarded Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), the second highest war time gallantry award. Five other personnel deployed there have been awarded Vir Chakra (VrC) — four of them posthumously — the third highest war time gallantry award.

Hav. Tejinder Singh from 2 Medium Regiment has been awarded Vir Chakra along with four awards posthumously — Nb Sub Nuduram Soren and Nk Deepak Singh from 16 Bihar, Hav. K Palani from 81 Field regiment and Sep. Gurtej Singh from 3 Punjab. In addition, the President has also awarded one Kirti Chakra posthumously and three Shaurya Chakras of which one is posthumous.

The President has approved awards of 455 gallantry and other defence decorations to the armed forces personnel and others on the eve of the 72nd Republic Day celebrations, the Defence Ministry said.

They include one MVC, five Kirti Chakras, five VrC, seven Shaurya Chakras, 134 Sena Medal, one Nao Sena Medal, four Vayu Sena Medal (all gallantry), 30 Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), 4 Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM), 51 Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM), 11 Yudh Seva Medal (YSM), 46 Sena Medal (Devotion to Duty) including 2 COVID warriors, eight Nao Sena Medal (devotion to duty), 14 Vayu Sena Medal (devotion to duty) and 134 Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM), including 13 COVID warriors.

In the first combat fatalities in 45 years, 20 soldiers were killed after they were attacked by Chinese troops in the Galwan valley on the night of June 15. The incident occurred amidst a “de-escalation” process in Galwan after a month-long standoff between troops at several points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and Sikkim. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has so far not revealed the number of casualties on its side.

Col. Babu was tasked with establishing an observation post in face of the enemy and he successfully executed the task, organising and briefing his troops about the situation with a sound plan, the citation said.

“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. Undaunted by the violent and aggressive action by overwhelming strength of enemy soldiers, the officer in true spirit of service before self, continued to resist the enemy’s attempt to pushback Indian troops,” it stated.

Col. Babu led from the front with absolute command and control despite hostile conditions to deter the vicious enemy attack at his position, the citation read, adding: “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.”

For conspicuous bravery in the face of enemy, exemplary leadership, astute professionalism and supreme sacrifice in the line of duty, Col. Babu was awarded MVC posthumously. The names of the 20 personnel have also been inscribed at the National War memorial in the national capital.

The Army had stated that while three soldiers including Col. Babu were killed in the clash, 17 soldiers who were critically injured at the location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high-altitude terrain, succumbed to their injuries later.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 9:32:12 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/col-b-santhosh-babu-awarded-maha-vir-chakra/article33662286.ece

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