Seven armed forces personnel, including 6 Army personnel and one Indian Air Force officer, have been awarded the Shaurya Chakra on the eve of 75th Independence Day.
Six armed forces personnel and one Indian Air Force officer were conferred with the Shaurya Chakra the country’s third-highest peacetime gallantry award, on the eve of the 75th Independence Day.
Gallantry awards were conferred on a total of 154 personnel in the Indian Army.
Out of these, six are Shaurya Chakra awardees, including one posthumous.
Bar to Sena Medal (Gallantry) has been awarded to four personnel, the Sena Medal (Gallantry) has been awarded to 116, including fifteen posthumous, and Mention-in-Despatches to 28, which includes three posthumous.
Major Ravi Kumar Chaudhary, Major Arun Kumar Pandey, Captain Vikas Khatri, Captain Ashutosh Kumar (posthumous), Sepoy Neeraj Ahlawat and Rifleman Mukesh Kumar have been conferred the Shaurya Chakra award for their valour during counter-terrorism operations in Kashmir.
Let us have a look at the background of these 7 Shaurya Chakra awardees:
Major Arun Kumar Pandey – Armed Forces
On June 9 last year, Major Arun Kumar Pandey received intelligence about the presence of five terrorists at a village in Jammu and Kashmir. He was able to pinpoint the location of the terrorists in a huge orchard with dense undergrowth.
Major Pandey led the search to hunt down the terrorists. He observed suspicious movement in the dense undergrowth, following which he advanced tactically with his partner. Suddenly, he came under indiscriminate fire, to which he retaliated after taking cover in the folds of ground.
Amid heavy firing, Major Pandey crawled forward and neutralised one of the terrorists. In doing so, he came in the line of fire of another terrorist.
Major Pandey swiftly rolled sideways and moved forward to engage him at close quarter, thereby neutralising him. He also neutralised two other terrorists.
Major Ravi Kumar Chaudhary – Armed Forces
Since April 2019, Major Ravi Kumar Chaudhary has participated and exhibited exceptional resoluteness, resulting in the elimination of 13 terrorists.
On June 2, 2020, specific input about the presence of three terrorists in the village of Jammu and Kashmir was received. Once the presence of terrorists was confirmed on June 3, 2020, at 6:20 am, the officer re-aligned the cordon.
To draw the attention of hiding terrorists, he along with his partner crawled forward under intense terrorist fire. Realising this, hiding terrorists opened indiscriminate fire and fired Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) grenades and rushed out in a bid to escape.
Appreciating the grave danger to his partner, he pushed him aside, exposing himself to heavy terrorist fire.
Maintaining his tactical composure, the officer effectively engaged fleeing terrorists at close range, resulting in the elimination of one terrorist and grievously injuring another terrorist.
Captain Ashutosh Kumar (posthumous) – Armed Forces
On November 8, 2020, Late Captain Ashutosh Kumar, Commander of Ghatak Platoon, at a post close to the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, received information about terrorist activity.
He proceeded to establish stops along the likely routes of their escape. At 6:30 am, a cut-off group led by Late Captain Ashutosh observed the movement of the terrorists.
The officer, displaying raw courage, continued to maintain contact and closed in with the terrorists. While closing in, the scout of the group sustained a bullet injury. Sensing grave danger to their own troops and seeing the terrorists escape, the officer displaying grit of steel took an aimed shot and brought down the terrorist at a very close range.
In the gunfire, he sustained a gunshot wound and succumbed to injuries on the spot.
Captain Vikas Khatri – Armed Forces
Captain Vikas Khatri, during patrolling in Jammu and Kashmir’s Peer Panjal Range on the intervening night of December 12 and 13, 2000, spotted foot trails on the fresh snow. He immediately followed the foot trails and detected the presence of terrorists holed-up in a dock.
He cordoned off the area by tactically removing the stops, thereby blocking the exit routes, paving the way for the culmination of the operation, neutralisation of two terrorists and apprehension of one terrorist.
Rifleman Mukesh Kumar – Armed Forces
Rifleman Mukesh Kumar was part of a cordon and search operation launched on July 16 at 11:45 pm based on specific intelligence of the likely presence of terrorists in a remote village of Kashmir.
At 5:10 am, as civilians were being evacuated from the target house, Rifleman Mukesh received a radio call regarding a suspect approaching his side of the cordon.
Rifleman Mukesh controlled his own fire to prevent casualties of civilians but was mentally alert to discern a weapon that a civilian was concealing under his clothing. On being challenged, the civilian, who was a terrorist, attempted to draw up his weapon to fire, but Rifleman Mukesh physically wrestled with the terrorist, who was shocked by the ferocity of the assault.
He kept attacking the terrorist with the butt of his weapon despite sustaining a gunshot wound.
Sepoy Neeraj Ahlawat – Armed Forces
On June 20, 2020, Sepoy Neeraj Ahlawat was part of the initial cordon during an operation in Jammu and Kashmir, in which a Pakistani terrorist was eliminated.
At around 4:50 pm, Sepoy Neeraj observed terrorists firing indiscriminately towards the inner cordon in a bid to escape, taking cover behind civilians, using them as human shields.
Sepoy Neeraj waited for an opportune moment and fired accurately at the fleeing terrorists. One of the terrorists was eliminated on the spot. The second terrorist opened heavy fire towards Sepoy Neeraj at close range.
Despite grave danger, Sepoy Neeraj showed indomitable courage to hold onto his position and continued engaging the second terrorist, injuring him.
Group Captain Perminder Antil – Armed Forces
A fighter pilot, Captain Perminder Antil, has been the Commanding Officer of a Su-30 MKI Squadron since January 2020.
On 21 September 2020, during a sortie from the front cockpit of a Su-30 aircraft, he experienced unprecedented and vicious oscillations in the longitudinal and lateral planes with gravitational forces, coupled with the aircraft uncontrollably banking to the left and other control failure indications.
Overcoming ‘black-out’ conditions encountered due to the extremely high ‘G’ conditions, he manually dampened the aircraft oscillations and also checked the safety of his weapon system operator. While controlling the aircraft, he turned away from populated areas to ensure no loss of civilian life or property in case of a probable ejection.
Armed Forces: As he initiated a priority recovery, the aircraft once again encountered vicious oscillations, with the control of the aircraft requiring a large amount of pressure on the control column by the pilot.
The officer applied his superior systems knowledge and opted for some unconventional recovery actions. As a result of his judgement and skilful handling, the oscillations were reduced and the aircraft was recovered safely.
Armed Forces: During these life-threatening circumstances, the pilot maintained his composure, displayed exemplary courage and maintained his presence of mind. His superior piloting skills ensured the safety of a national asset worth hundreds of crores of rupees and precluded possible damage to life and property on the ground in case of an ejection.
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