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Independence Day: Stories of 6 heroes whose 'shaurya' inspire a billion Indians

The government has awarded six Indian Army personnel with India's third-highest gallantry medal in peacetime, Shaurya Chakra for their bravery in counter-terror operations in Jammu & Kashmir. Let's know more about these heroes.

Independence Day Stories of 6 Shaurya Chakra winners-VPN
New Delhi, First Published Aug 14, 2021, 4:27 PM IST

The government has awarded six Indian Army personnel with India's third-highest gallantry medal in peacetime, Shaurya Chakra, for their bravery in counter-terror operations in Jammu & Kashmir. 

Let's know more about these heroes:

Major Arun Kumar Pandey

Deployed with the 44th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles, Major Pandey received intelligence about the presence of five terrorists in a village of Jammu & Kashmir on June 9, 2020.

As a mission leader, based upon in-depth knowledge of the terrain and a deep sense of terrorist modus operandi, he was able to pinpoint the likely location of the terrorists in the huge orchard with dense undergrowth.

Retaliating to the indiscriminate fire from hidden terrorists, the Indian Army officer successfully neutralised two hardcore terrorists. 

Major Ravi Kumar Chaudhary

Since April 2019, Major Ravi Kumar Chaudhary participated and exhibited exceptional resoluteness, unsurpassed fortitude and supreme leadership qualities during the conduct of four successful operations of the Battalion, resulting in the elimination of 13 terrorists.

On June 2, 2020, specific input about the presence of three terrorists in a village in Jammu and Kashmir was received. 

The officer showcased his exemplary leadership and re-aligned the cordon. 

To draw the attention of hiding terrorists, the officer and his buddy crawled forward under intense terrorist fire. 

Realising this, hiding terrorists opened indiscriminate fire and fired Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) Grenades and rushed out in a bid to escape. Appreciating grave danger to his buddy, he displayed unflinching courage and pushed him aside, exposing himself to heavy terrorist fire. 

Maintaining his tactical composure, Maj Chaudhary effectively engaged fleeing terrorists at close range resulting in the elimination of one terrorist and grievously injuring another terrorist. He was posted with the 55th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles. 

Captain Ashutosh Kumar 

The Madras Regiment 18th Battalion Captain Ashutosh Kumar was performing the duties of Ghatak Platoon Commander deployed at a post close to the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

On November 8, 2020, on receipt of information of the likely escape of terrorists, he proceeded to establish stops along the likely routes of escape. 

At 0630 hours, a cut-off group led by him observed the movement of escaping terrorists. 

The officer showed raw courage, continued to maintain contact and closed in upon the terrorists. 

While closing in, the scout of the group sustained a bullet injury. 

Sensing grave danger to own troops and seeing the terrorist escape, the officer, with utter disregard to his personal safety and displaying grit of steel while being completely exposed to terrorist fire, took an aimed shot and brought down the terrorist at a very close range. 

In the ensuing gunfire, he sustained a gunshot wound and succumbed to injuries on the spot.

Captain Vikas Khatri

On the night of December 12-13, Captain Vikas Khatri was on a special task of area domination patrol in Jammu & Kashmir under the challenging terrain at 12000 feet height in sub-zero temperature in the upper reaches of Peer Panjal Range. 

Captain Khatri spotted foot trails on the fresh snow, displayed a high degree of initiative, immediately following upon the foot trails detected the presence of terrorists holed up in a dhok. He cordoned the area tactically, blocking the exit routes. This paved the way for the culmination of operations, the neutralisation of two terrorists and the apprehension of one terrorist.

During the ensuing firefight, he brought down a Light Machine Gun fire along with Lance Naik Khushkarn Singh, despite heavy retaliation, successfully eliminated one foreign terrorist.

Rifleman Mukesh Kumar 

He was a part of a cordon and search operation launched on July 16, 2020, at 2345 hours based on specific intelligence of the likely presence of terrorists in a remote village of Jammu and Kashmir.

At 0510 hours, as civilians were being evacuated from the target house, Rifleman Mukesh received a radio call of a suspect approaching his side of the cordon. 

Rifleman Mukesh controlled his own fire to prevent casualties to civilians but was mentally alert to discern a weapon that a civilian was concealing under his clothing. 

On being challenged, the civilian, who was a terrorist, attempted to draw up his weapon to fire, but Rifleman Mukesh physically wrestled with the terrorist, who was shocked by the ferocity of the assault. He kept attacking the terrorist with the butt of his weapon in spite of sustaining a Gunshot wound. 

Unmindful of his injuries, Rifleman Mukesh neutralised the terrorist from point-blank range, ensuring no injuries to own troops or the civilians.

Sepoy Neeraj Ahlawat

On June 20, 2020, Sepoy Neeraj Ahlawat was part of the initial cordon during an Operation in Jammu and Kashmir, in which one hardcore Pakistani terrorist was eliminated.

At approximately 1650 hours, a keen and alert Sepoy Neeraj observed terrorists firing indiscriminately towards the inner cordon in a bid to escape, taking cover behind civilians, using them as human shields. 

Exercising maximum restraint and displaying composure in the face of a rapidly escalating situation, Sepoy Neeraj waited for an opportune moment and fired accurately on the fleeing terrorists. 

One of the terrorists was eliminated on the spot. The second terrorist opened heavy fire towards Sepoy Neeraj at close range.

Despite the grave danger, Sepoy Neeraj showed indomitable courage to hold onto his position and continued engaging the second terrorist, injuring him and damaging his sophisticated M-4 Assault Rifle, which he was compelled to abandon. The actions of Sepoy Neeraj led to the elimination of a Pakistani terrorist.

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