New Delhi: Colonel Bikumalla Santosh Babu, who led his troops against the “vicious” Chinese attack in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June last year, has been posthumously named for the second-highest military award, Mahavir Chakra, for acts of gallantry in the presence of the enemy, according to an official announcement on Monday.
Twenty Indian Army personnel laid down their lives in the fierce hand-to-hand combat on June 15 in Galwan Valley, an incident that marked the most serious military conflicts between the two sides in decades.
Four other soldiers –Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren, Havildar (Gunner) K Palani, Naik Deepak Singh and Sepoy Gurtej Singh– who also laid down their lives valiantly fighting the Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley clash have been named for Vir Chakra awards posthumously.
Havildar Tejinder Singh from the 3 Medium Regiment and was a member of the Indian Army team at Galwan Valley clash, has also been named for Vir Chakra award.
Col Babu, the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar regiment, was undaunted by the “violent and aggressive” action and overwhelming strength of enemy soldiers, and he continued to resist their attempt to pushback the Indian troops, displaying true spirit of service before self, the official release said.
“Despite being grievously injured, Colonel Babu led from the front with absolute command and control despite hostile conditions to deter the vicious enemy attack at his position,” it said.
“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,” it said, about his role during the ‘Operation Snow Leopard’ .
The release said Col Babu has been awarded the Mahavir Chakra for displaying “exemplary leadership, astute professionalism and supreme sacrifice” in the line of duty.
The Indian Army has already built a memorial for the ‘Gallants of Galwan’ at Post 120 in eastern Ladakh.
The memorial mentioned their heroics under operation ‘Snow Leopard’ and the way they evicted the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops from the area while inflicting “heavy casualties” on them.
About Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren, who was also a part of the 16 Bihar Regiment, the communication said he led his column and resisted the enemy’s attempt to push back the Indian soldiers while establishing an observation post.
“He organised his column, countered the adversary forcefully and stopped them in their attempt to push back Indian troops. During the skirmish, he was viewed as a daunting leader and was targeted by the enemy soldiers with lethal and sharp weapons,” it said.
“Being grievously injured when asked to move back, as a true leader he refused, in spite of being heavily outnumbered by the enemy soldiers. The Junior Leader stood at the forefront under hostile conditions,” it said.
The release said Soren displayed raw courage, fighting with resolute spirit before succumbing to his injuries.
“The gallant action by the junior commissioned officer resulted in a positive response which overwhelmed the enemy by surprise. His action speeded own retaliation and also galvanised own troops to continue to hold ground,” it said.
It further said Havildar Palani stood bravely and tried to defend his comrades even when the enemy attacked him with sharp weapon.
“His act of valour inspired other fellow soldiers to fight fiercely and resist enemy aggression. Inspite of his grievous injuries, he continued to hold his ground resolutely and in the finest traditions of the Indian Army and laid down his life for the motherland,” it said.
Naik Deepak Singh, who too belonged to 16 Bihar regiment and was performing duties as a nursing assistant, played a “pivotal” role in rendering treatment and saving the lives of more than 30 Indian soldiers, the release said.
“In the ensuing skirmish coupled with heavy stone pelting, he received serious injuries, but undeterred and tirelessly, he continued to provide medical aid. The enemy outnumbered Indian troops and he was injured while carrying out his duty,” the communication said.
“In spite of grievous wounds by the enemy, he continued rendering medical assistance to injured soldiers and saved many lives. He finally succumbed to his injuries,” it added.
According to the communication, Sepoy Gurtej Singh, who was from the third battalion of the Punjab regiment, successfully spotted the enemy troops while establishing the observation post.
It said Singh displayed raw courage and exceptional combat skills in resisting the enemy troops and kept fighting even after he was seriously injured.
“With utter disregard to his personal safety, he continued to fight the enemy valiantly and also extricated own injured troops, thereby saving a number of fellow soldiers of his patrol party before making the supreme sacrifice,” the communication said.