The Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar regiment, Colonel Santosh Babu, who lost his life during the Galwan Valley clash last year, was posthumously awarded with Maha Vir Chakra on Republic Day.
The 39-year-old colonel was among the 20 Indian soldiers killed in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on 15 June 2020, amid violent clashes with Chinese.
Mahavir Chakra is the second-highest military decoration in India after Param Vir Chakra. The Indian Army top brass reportedly recommended Colonel Babu’s name for the honor.
While most details of the Galwan clashes remain unclear, the citation for Babu’s award throws a light on what might have unfolded that day.
‘Adversary Attacked Using Sharp, Lethal Weapons’: What Happened That Day
"Colonel Bikumalla Santosh Babu, Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar deployed in Galwan Valley (Eastern Ladakh) during Operation Snow Leopard, was tasked to establish an observation post in face of the enemy. Organising and briefing his troops about the situation with a sound plan, he successfully executed the task. 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," the citation for his award read.
"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. Despite being grievously injured, he led from the front with absolute command and control despite hostile conditions to deter the vicious enemy attack at his position," it added.
“In the ensuing hand to hand combat with enemy soldiers, he valiantly resisted the enemy attack till his last breath,” it further said.
“The (Indian Army’s) column successfully evicted the PLA OP from Y Nala and reached Patrolling Point 14 where a fierce skirmish broke out between the Indian Army and PLA troops. Col B Santosh Babu led from the front and his troops fought gallantly in hand-to-hand combat, causing heavy casualties to the PLA,” read the memorial laid down by the government for the soldiers who laid down their lives.
The Other Awardees
Major Anuj Sood, who lost his life in an encounter with terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir in May 2020, has been awarded Shaurya Chakra posthumously. Rifleman Pranab Jyoti Das and Paratrooper Sonam Tshering Tamang have also been awarded Shaurya Chakras.
Subedar Sanjeev Kumar has been awarded the second highest peacetime gallantry award – Kirti Chakra – posthumously for eliminating one terrorist and injuring two others in an operation in Jammu and Kashmir on 4 April, 2020.
The five Vir Chakra awardees include Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren, Havildar K Palani, Naik Deepak Singh, and Sepoy Gurtej Singh, who have been awarded posthumously, and Havildar Tejinder Singh.
(With inputs from ANI.)