Army Heroes Honoured On Republic Day

The Indian government today conferred peacetime gallantry awards on four Army officers (clockwise from top left): Lt Navdeep Singh (Ashok Chakra, Posthumous), Lt Col Kamaldeep Singh (Kirti Chakra), Lt Sushil Khajuria (Kirti Chakra, Posthumous), Captain Ashutosh Kumar (Kirti Chakra). Here are their award citations in full:

Lieutenant Navdeep Singh was Ghatak Platoon Commander of 15 Maratha Light Infantry deployed in the High Altitude Area near the Line of Control. On receiving information about the infiltration of a group of terrorists at about 0030 hours on 20 August 2011, the officer gauged the likely route of the terrorists and laid an ambush at the appropriate spot. When the terrorists were spotted, the ambush was sprung by the officer himself. An exchange of intense fire ensued. Leading from the front, the officer eliminated three terrorists at close range. On seeing another terrorist approaching their position, with utter disregard to his personal safety, the officer swiftly changed his firing position. While doing so, he got hit by a bullet on his head. He nevertheless managed to eliminate the fourth terrorist. Further, displaying utmost bravery and comradeship, he pulled an injured fellow-soldier to safety and kept firing till he became unconscious due to excessive blood loss. Lieutenant Navdeep Singh displayed his indomitable spirit, determination and exceptional bravery while putting down the terrorists and making the supreme sacrifice for the nation.

Lt Col Kamaldeep Singh, 18 RR Bn, was mission Cdr for Op Maidanpura on 15 July 2011. On receipt of hard intelligence of presence of five hardcore terrorists in the area in Dist Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir, the officer, at 2250 hours led five quick reaction teams and established cordon of target house. After confirmation of presence of terrorists, he tightened the cordon with another seventeen quick reaction teams, thereby sealing all possible exit routes and evacuated five civilians held hostage. While under fire, he readjusted his cordon parties to effectively engage the terrorists leading to immediate elimination of two terrorists. The Officer while in close cordon sited a terrorist bringing down heavy fire onto the cordon party. The Officer while controlling the operation himself maneuvered to an advantageous position through deft battle craft, eliminated one hard core terrorist and seriously decapacitated another. In an operation lasting over two days, he displayed absolute calmness, exemplary tactical acumen, and motivated his troops leading by personal example. For his professional acumen, astute leadership, indomitable courage and personal bravery which led to elimination of five hardcore terrorists, Lt Col Kamaldeep Singh is recommended for the award of ‘KIRTI CHAKRA’.

Based on receipt of specific information from own and police sources about the presence of armed cadres of Terrorists in general area Rangpisso Gaon, a joint search operation was launched under Capt Ashutosh Kumar with strength of one JCO and fifteen ORs alongwith a police team. At 0430 hrs while own troops were cordoning the village, move of suspected individuals was noticed. On being challenged, the individuals started firing indiscriminately at close to the terrorists making use of thick foliage and despite being under heavy effective fire, fired at the terrorists, killing one of them and injuring another who later succumbed to his injuries. The rest of the terrorists panicked and tried to escape while spraying heavy volume of bullets towards own troops. Determined not to let the fleeing terrorists escape, the officer ordered his troops to change position and pursue the escaping terrorists that led to the killing of one more terrorist by his party while apprehending one cadre alive. Arms and Ammunition, money and other war like stores were recovered from the slain terrorists. In the face of extreme adversity, inhospitable terrain, and stringent human rights regulations, the officer displayed utmost physical courage killing two dreaded terrorists included Commander. In addition, the officer displayed inspiring leadership and utmost tactical acumen in executing the operation leading to the killing of another terrorist and apprehending one alive, ensuring no collateral damage. This act of the officer is testimony to his dauntless courage, determination and professionalism for which Capt Ashutosh Kumar is recommended for the award of ‘KIRTI CHAKRA’.

Lt Sushil Khajuria while leading his team in a search operation in the main area in district Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir came face to face with two terrorists. Displaying exceptional presence of mind he opened fire on them allowing his team to take cover. In the prolonged fire fight, the officer advanced from cover to cover and with unflinching resoluteness and raw courage, closed in and eliminated the terrorist from close range. The other terrorist brought down intense fire on the team. Sensing danger, the officer exhibiting conspicuous bravery of highest order immediately engaged and forced the terrorist to retreat. He pursued the terrorist, using the difficult folds in the ground, approached from an unexpected direction and personally eliminated the second terrorist. The officer, displaying exceptional sense of responsibility and camaraderie as a true leader unmindful of his personal safety immediately crawled forward to evacuate one of his injured colleague upholding the highest traditions of the Indian Army. For his act of conspicuous gallantry, exceptional leadership and camaraderie in the highest traditions of Army, Lt Sushil Khajuria is recommended for the award of ‘KIRTI CHAKRA (POSTHUMOUS)’.

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