11 minute readCourage under fire

Honorary Captain (Retired) Joginder Singh, father of Lieutenant Navdeep Singh received the Ashok Chakra from President Pratibha Devisingh Patil. Honorary Captain Joginder Singh is an accomplished veteran Bengal Sapper with a distinguished service record who followed in the footsteps of Navdeep’s grandfather, of the 8 Sikh Regiment.

Lieutenant Navdeep Singh (Posthumous), 15th Battalion, The Maratha Light Infantry Regiment, Ashok Chakra

Lieutenant Navdeep Singh, died in action on 20th August 2011, combating infiltrators on the Line of Control in the remote Gurez Sector of North Kashmir.

Lieutenant Navdeep Singh, 15th Battalion, The Maratha Light Infantry Regiment, Ashok Chakra (Posthumous)

Lieutenant Navdeep, a third generation soldier and an alumnus of the Officers Training Academy, Chennai, was commissioned on 19th March 2011. Navdeep showed his combat leadership qualities and his Battalion entrusted him with the coveted leadership of its crack Commando Platoon, which he trained and honed into a superbly fit fighting unit. Navdeep was deployed with his crack team to destroy infiltration attempts by hardcore terrorists from across the Line of Control.

On the fateful night of 19th August 2011, Lieutenant Navdeep Singh and his Commando Platoon were deployed in the Kanzalwan Sub Sector in response to intelligence inputs about a desperate bid by a large group of highly trained terrorists, fully equipped and armed to the teeth with deadly weapons. Leading from the front and demonstrating the highest standards of tactical acumen, field craft and fire control, he quickly sited his ambush, correctly appreciating the path that the terrorists would adopt. Navdeep allowed the unsuspecting terrorists to walk into his trap. Springing his ambush at the last moment, Navdeep singlehandedly engaged and eliminated three hardcore terrorists from close range.

Despite being hit and severely injured in the violent return fire, Navdeep continued to control the encounter, marshalling his resources with cool presence of mind. Living up to the highest military ideals, despite being grievously injured, he saved the life of his buddy while gunning down a fourth terrorist, before eventually succumbing to his injuries. His gallant action resulted in his team eliminating twelve hardcore terrorists in one of the fiercest encounters on the Line of Control, dealing a crippling body blow to the terrorist groups.

Honorary Captain (Retired) Joginder Singh, his proud father received the Ashok Chakra, on Lieutenant Navdeep’s behalf, accompanied by his mother, Mrs Jagtinder Kaur. Honorary Captain Joginder Singh is an accomplished veteran Bengal Sapper with a distinguished service record who followed in the footsteps of Navdeep’s grandfather, of the 8 Sikh Regiment. Navdeep’s younger brother, Sandeep, an aspiring Engineer and his sister, Navjot Kaur, share the pride.

Captain Ashutosh Kumar, 5th Battalion, The Rajputana Rifles, Kirti Chakra

Lieutenant Colonel Kamaldeep Singh, 18th Battalion, The Rashtriya Rifles (Rajputana Rifles), Kirti Chakra

Based on receipt of specific info 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 the officer with strength of one JCO and 15 ORs along with a police team. They noticed the movement some individuals that seemed suspicious while cordoning the village at 4.30 am. On being challenged, the individuals started firing indiscriminately. Ashutosh closed in on the terrorists, making use of thick foliage and despite coming under heavy fire, fired back 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 a heavy volume of fire towards the security forces.

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 a commander. In addition, the officer displayed inspiring leadership and utmost tactical acumen in executing the operation leading to the killing of another terrorists 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 awarded the Kirti Chakra.

Lieutenant Sushil Khajuria (Posthumous), 18th Battalion, The Grenadiers Regiment, Kirti Chakra

Lieutenant Sushil Khajuria, 18th Battalion, The Grenadiers Regiment, Kirti Chakra (Posthumous)

Lieutenant Sushil Khajuria was born on 28 Aug 1985 at Samba in Jammu and Kashmir. He completed his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 1, Gandhi Nagar, Jammu. He joined the Officers Training Academy (OTA) after completing his graduation and was commissioned in the ASC on attachment to the 18th Battalion, The Grenadiers Regiment on 20 March, 2010. A second generation officer, whose elder brother Captain Anil Khajuria is presently serving with 22 Assam Rifles, he also has a younger sister.

Lieutenant Sushil Khajuria joined the unit at Panzgam on 14 April, 2010. He was the Ghatak Platoon Commander from the beginning and was soon in combat, conducting counter terrorist operations in the treacherous mountainous terrain of the frontiers of Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir. His first real encounter was on 29 July, 2011, where he gave an excellent account of himself and the battalion was successful in neutralising one hardcore terrorist.

On 26 September, 2011, based on specific input by higher formation headquarters and a neighbouring formation about the presence of an infiltration column of approximately 5 to 6 terrorists in the general area of Kopra, teams were launched to search and destroy. Lieutenant Sushil Khajuria was leading his team in a rugged and difficult terrain with steep slopes and thick undergrowth, while simultaneously, coordinating movements with four other teams. While scouting a nala, his team came under heavy fire. With his buddy was pinned down by the terrorist fire and realising that the terrorists were entrenched in an advantageous position behind a big rock, he crawled through thick foliage to a flank and spotted the terrorists under covering fire from his team.

Unmindful of his personal safety, he charged at the terrorists, up slope, killing two of them. The operation resumed on 27 September, 2011 when the leading scout of another team, Havildar Ravi Kumar got shot by the terrorists at around 10.30 hrs and was severely injured. Kumar could not move, under fire from the terrorists. Lieutenant Sushil Khajuria volunteered to retrieve the injured Havildar Ravi Kumar. While crawling towards Havildar, Lieutenant Sushil Khajuria was fired upon by a terrorist and was injured, succumbing to his injuries, later.

For his act of conspicuous gallantry, exceptional leadership and camaraderie in the highest traditions of Army, Lt Sushil Khajuria has been awarded the Kirti Chakra (Posthumous).

Lieutenant Colonel Kamaldeep Singh, 18th Battalion, The Rashtriya Rifles (Rajputana Rifles), Kirti Chakra

Lieutenant Colonel Kamaldeep Singh, 18th Battalion, The Rashtriya Rifles (Rajputana Rifles), Kirti Chakra

Lieutenant Colonel Kamaldeep Singh, 18 RR Bn, was the mission commander for Operation Maidanpura on 15 July, 2011. On the receipt of hard intelligence about the presence of five hardcore terrorists in the area in Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir, the officer, at 10.50 pm led five quick reaction teams and established a cordon around the suspected target house. After confirmation of the presence of terrorists, he tightened the cordon with another 17 quick reaction team members, thereby sealing all possible exit routes and evacuated five civilians being 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 sighted a terrorist bringing down heavy fire onto the cordon party. Singh maneuvered to an advantageous position, eliminated one hard core terrorist and rendered another inoperative. Over the two-day operation, he displayed calmness, 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, Lieutenant Colonel Kamaldeep Singh is awarded the Kirti Chakra.

Lieutenant Commander Rohith Mohandas Nambiar, Shaurya Chakra

On 08 April, 2011, Lt Cdr Nambiar was flying Lt Gen NC Marwah, AVSM, Commander-in-Chief Andaman and Nicobar Command from NAS Shibpur to Neil Island. After an hour of flying, the tail rotor control cable of the single engine Chetak helicopter got damaged and Nambiar lost directional control of the aircraft (loss of tail rotor in a helicopter leads to spinning effect). Despite his limited flying experience, he reacted in an exceptional manner. He flew the aircraft back to INS Utkrosh from over 20Nm out and landed it safely.

Lieutenant Commander Rohit Mohandas Nambiar is awarded the Shaurya Chakra for displaying exceptional courage and initiative in the face of great danger.

Commander Subhal Nathan, Nausena Medal (Gallantry)

On the night of 12 March, 20 11, INS Kalpeni was deployed for the engagement of a pirate mother vessel Vega-5, which resulted in the capture of 61 pirates and the release of 13 crew members of the vessel held hostage. During the operation, the officer displayed conspicuous gallantry, and professionalism while leading the ship in the face of hostile gun fire from pirate mother vessel. His courageous action led to the neutralization of the pirate mother ship, while ensuring no damage or injury to his ship or ship’s company. It is also note-worthy that re-deployment of his ship at short notice was the farthest ever for this class of ship covering a distance of 600 nm from the base port.

When the ship came under attack by the pirate skiffs and subsequently by the mother ship, the officer skillfully maneuvered the ship to keep out of the pirate vessel’s weapon ranges, ensuring no gun fire hit the ship. During the brief hostage negotiation with the pirate leader, he was firm and resolute in conveying that surrender was the only option for them if they desired that no harm should come to them.

Despite being under fire, the officer held his nerve to give a graduated response of fire-power on the mother ship, which resulted in a minor fire onboard. This decisive action compelled the pirates to surrender and seek help. The officer correctly advised all pirates and hostages to jump overboard and swim clear of the vessel, to enable rescue by the ship.

In keeping with the highest humanitarian traditions of the Indian Navy, the officer led the ship’s company from the front working tirelessly to rescue all survivors from the water in an operation lasting over three hours. This required skillful ship-handling between the floating groups of survivors, while towing life-rafts alongside.

Despite the heavy swell, acrid fumes of the burning mother-ship, and darkness of the night, the courage and persistence of the officer and his men resulted in the rescue of 74 survivors from the sea.

The determined and gallant action of the officer and his ship resulted in the largest ever capture of pirates in a single incident, and neutralization of one of the largest pirate mother ships, thereby delivering a severe blow to the pirate group. This operation has also projected the Indian Navy’s resolve to eradicate piracy from the seas.

Cdr Subhal Nathan is awarded the Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) for displaying exceptional courage and initiative in the face of danger.

Vinod Kumar Pome ACM(D), Nausena Medal (Gallantry)

At about 0800 hours on 04 August, 2011, Marine Commando Flight responded to a SOS call for evacuating crew from MV RAK CARRIER, which was about 25 NM Southwest of Mumbai. SC 557 was immediately launched for the task and Vinod Kumar was assigned as the rescue diver for the mission.

After 15 minutes of flying in inclement weather the aircraft reached the vessel. The ship was sinking and the sea was heaving in the monsoon seas. While the aircraft was hovering, Vinod Kumar, was winched down to the vessel to rescue the personnel.

On being lowered on to the ship which was already half submerged and tilting forward dangerously, he realized that the rescue plan had to be carried out quickly as the ship was at a risk of sinking any moment. He briefed the ship’s crew about the rescue drill, covered the plan of action in case the ship went down and effected smooth, expeditious and orderly recovery of 15 crew members by the rescue helicopter. All this was accomplished on a dangerously tilting vessel which was being lashed by waves.

He helped in rescue of fifteen precious human lives, while placing service before self. Braving treacherous weather conditions, he displayed utmost proficiency in conduct of the task assigned to him.

Vinod Kumar, POME ACM (D) is awarded the Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) for exceptional courage and initiative in the face of great danger.

Wing Commander Felix Patrick Pinto, Shaurya Chakra

Wing Commander Felix Patrick Pinto, an helicopter pilot of the Indian Air Force, who helped search for the fateful Pawan Hans helicopter of then Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu that had crashed in Tawang in April last year, was Wednesday named to receive Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peacetime gallantry medal.

Pinto, a Mi-17 pilot, had also showed grit when he successfully steered a malfunctioning helicopters for about 15 minutes to safely land in Guwahati on Aug 29 last year.

Pinto was in charge of all the air operations launched in Tawang sector in search of the Pawan Hans chopper carrying Khandu that crashed. On May 4, he got airborne and help locate the plane wreck’s exact coordinates despite bad weather.

For exceptional displays of exemplary courage, determination, leadership and composure under adverse conditions, twice in a year, Wing Commander Pinto is recommended for the award of Shaurya Chakra.

View the complete list of gallantry awardees.

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