Colonel B. Santhosh Babu, Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar who was among the 20 personnel killed in the violent clash with Chinese troops at Galwan in June last year was posthumously awarded Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), the country’s second highest war time gallantry award, by President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday.
Havildar Tejinder Singh from 2 Medium Regiment has been awarded Vir Chakra, the third highest war time gallantry award.
Four other personnel — Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren and Naik Deepak Singh from 16 Bihar, Havildar K. Palani from 81 Field regiment and Sepoy Gurtej Singh from 3 Punjab — were also honoured with the Vir Chakra posthumously.
In a coincidence and an honour for Sainik School, Korukonda (SSK) in Andhra Pradesh, six former students were among the recipients of gallantry and distinguished service medals including late Col. Babu.
Col. Babu’s wife B. Santoshi and mother Manjula received the award at the investiture ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the top military brass of the country.
Naib Soren’s wife Laxmi Mani Soren, Havildar Palani’s wife Vanathi Devi and Naik Singh’s wife, Rekha Singh, Sepoy Singh’s parents Prakash Kaur and Virsa Singh received the Vir Chakra from the President.
In the first combat fatalities in 45 years, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the violent clash after they were attacked by Chinese troops in Galwan valley on the night of June 15, 2020. Under Operation Snow Leopard, Col. Babu was tasked to establish an observation post in the 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.
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.”
Naib Subedar Soren led his column and resisted the enemy’s attempt to push back the Indian soldiers while establishing the observation post, the citation said. “Soren displayed raw courage, fighting with a resolute spirit before succumbing to his injuries.”
Havildar Palani stood bravely and tried to defend his comrades even when the enemy attacked him with a sharp weapon. His act of valour inspired other fellow soldiers to fight fiercely and resist enemy aggression, according to his citation.
Naik Singh was performing duties as a nursing assistant and played a pivotal role in rendering treatment and saving the lives of more than 30 Indian soldiers. Sepoy Singh successfully spotted the enemy troops while establishing the observation post and displayed raw courage and exceptional combat skills in resisting the enemy troops and kept fighting even after he was seriously injured, his citation stated.
Honour for school
Four three-star ranked officers from Sainik School Korukonda (SSK) were awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) on the occasion of Republic Day 2021. These include Vice Admiral M.S. Pawar, who retired as Deputy Chief of Naval Staff, Lt Gen Y.V.K. Mohan, who retired as Commandant of Defence Services Staff College, Lt Gen V.S. Sreenivas presently Commandant of Army War College Mhow and Lt. Gen. Ravi Prasad, who retired as Director General of Artillery this year. Further, Air Vice Marsha Amar Prasad was conferred the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM).
Sainik School Korukonda raised in 1962 is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee to mark 60 years of its raising on January 18, 2022.
The names of the 20 personnel killed at Galwan have been inscribed at the National War memorial in the national capital. The Army has also built a memorial for the ‘Gallants of Galwan’ at Post 120 in Eastern Ladakh.