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Gallantry awards for 2020 conferred

 
New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday conferred the Gallantry awards, including two Kirti Chakras, one Vir Chakra and 10 Shaurya Chakras, for the year 2020.

Kovind, who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, conferred awards to the personnel for displaying conspicuous gallantry, indomitable courage and extreme devotion to duty.

The awards were conferred during Defence Investiture Ceremony held in Phase I in the morning and Phase II in the evening at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here, a communique from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

Of the two, one Kirti Chakra, and of the 10, two Shaurya Chakras were awarded posthumously. Apart from the Kirti Chakras, Vir Chakra and the Shaurya Chakras, the President also awarded 13 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, two Uttam Yudh Seva Medals and 24 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, it said.

The most touching moments during the awards ceremony were the moments when citations of the three of the posthumous awardees were read out.

In the early hours of November 27, 2018, Sapper Prakash Jadhav of the Corps of Engineers, First Battalion, The Rashtriya Rifles, who was awarded the Kirti Chakra (posthumous), was leading a cordon and search operation in a village of Jammu & Kashmir. Suddenly, terrorists opened indiscriminate fire on search party. Sensing danger to his buddy, Jadhav pushed him aside, exposed himself, under heavy firing by the terrorists, effectively retaliated and eliminated one terrorist on the spot. Meanwhile, second terrorist opened fire and threw a petrol bomb.

Jadhav alerted his team to leave house. In this process, Jadhav sustained bullet injuries; however, undeterred from his grave injuries, he fearlessly accurately fired and injured the terrorist. Due to the petrol bomb, fire spread all over the house and Sapper Prakash Jadhav could not extricate himself out of house and later succumbed to his gunshot wounds and burn injuries.

After reading this, when the announcer said, "Sapper Prakash Jadhav displayed conspicuous gallantry, exemplary courage beyond the call of duty and made supreme sacrifice in true traditions of the Indian Army", each one in the Hall was teary eyed.

Same was the case when the citation was read out for Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, 55 Battalion, the Rashtriya Rifles, who was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra. Major Dhoundiyal had exhibited unparalleled valour and exceptional leadership qualities in various operations resulting in elimination of five terrorists and recovery of 200 kg of explosive material on February 17, 2019.

When an input of the presence of a terrorist group in a village was received, the officer planned a Battalion level operation. During search, the officer was fired upon by a terrorist hiding in a cow shed resulting in multiple gunshot injuries to him.

Despite being severely injured, the officer maintained his tactical composure and retaliated terrorist fire. Exhibiting utter disregard to his personal safety, the officer crawled closer to the cow shed in the line of fire to bring down effective fire on hiding terrorists resulted in the elimination of one terrorist. The officer succumbed to his injuries at operation site while fighting with terrorists.

Naib Subedar Sombir of the Jat Regiment, 34 Battalion, Rashtriya Rifles, was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously too. Sombir was part of the assault team of 34 Rashtriya Rifles (Jat), which planned and executed an operation in which three hardcore terrorists were eliminated in Jammu and Kashmir. While cordoning the target house, Sombir deployed himself and his buddy to cover the most likely escape route of the terrorists. One of the terrorist tried to break the cordon by firing indiscriminately and lobbing grenades on them, which resulted in grievous injuries to his buddy.

Seeing his buddy in danger and not caring about personal safety, Naib Subedar Sombir seized the initiative and engaged the terrorist. In close quarter battle, he killed the foreign terrorist, later identified as Category 'A++' terrorist, but during this extremely courageous act, received grievous gunshot wounds on his chest and neck. He later succumbed.

--IANS
niv/pgh