India honours Galwan Valley heroes with gallantry awards, Maha Vir Chakra for Col B Santosh Babu

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Acknowledging the bravery of the Indian Army soldiers who fought with the Chinese PLA in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley, the bravehearts have been conferred with the highest awards given only in ‘warlike situation’.

Col Bikumalla Santosh Babu (16 BIHAR) has been awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (Posthumously) and six others who were part of the same operation in Galwan have been given the Vir Chakra. While the Vir Chakras are awarded for acts of gallantry in the presence of the enemy on the battlefield, never have an Indian soldier received the Maha Vir Chakra after the Kargil conflict in 1999.

Wing Commander Abhinanadan Varthaman was awarded the Vir Chakra in 2019 for his fortitude while in the enemy territory.

The five who have been given the Vir Chakra are Nb Sub Nuduram Soren (16 BIHAR), Hav K Palani (81 Field), Hav Tejinder Singh (3 Medium), Nk Deepak Singh (16 Bihar), Sep Gurtej Singh (3 Punjab). Except for Tejinder Singh, all have been given the award posthumously.

The Vir Chakra series of awards are given for action in the face of the enemy across the Line of Actual Control and Line of Control whereas the Chakra series of awards are given for actions within and internal security.

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Colonel Babu and his Unit was deployed in Galwan (Eastern Ladakh) and were tasked to establish an Observation Post when attacked by the Chinese soldiers. Colonel Babu and his men fought till their last breath. A total of 20 Indian soldiers were killed in action and all have been conferred with gallantry awards which include the 14 Mention in Despatches.

Subedar Sanjiv Kumar (4 PARA (SF)) was awarded the Kirti Chakra posthumously while three soldiers received Shaurya Chakras. A total of 134 Sena Medals for gallantry were announced of which four personnel received it for the second time.

The Indian Navy honoured Commander Gaurav Kumar Saini with Nau Sena Medal for his service in a classified operation.

Four officers of the Indian Air force — Squadron leader Vivek Gairola, Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Preji Raju, Wg Cdr BDSK Jena and Flt Lt Anand Singh– were conferred with the gallantry medals for their bravery shown during operations.