Colonel Santosh Babu, who was among the 20 soldiers killed in the line of duty when they clashed with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh has been awarded the Maha Vir Chakra for his “conspicuous bravery in face of enemy, exemplary leadership and astute professionalism.”
The Maha Vir Chakra is the second highest wartime gallantry honour.
Santosh Babu’s citation said, “Undaunted by the violent and aggressive action by overwhelming strength of enemy soldiers, the officer in true spirit of service before self, continued to resist the enemy’s attempt to pushback Indian troops.”
The citation further added, “Despite being grievously injured, he led from the front with absolute command and control despite hostile conditions to deter the vicious enemy attack at his position.”
However, Colonel Babu’s family said they were very disappointed with the honour. “We are thoroughly disappointed,” Santosh Babu’s father Bikumalla Upender, a retired employee of State Bank of India, said, “I was expecting my son would be conferred the Param Vir Chakra, the highest military award of the country, for the kind of sacrifice he made for the nation.”
He added that Colonel Babu’s sacrifice was not an ordinary one.
He said, “My son displayed tremendous courage to encounter the Chinese forces, which were in larger numbers. It was because of his bravery that Chinese forces had to beat a retreat.”
Besides Babu, Subedar Sanjiv Kumar has been posthumously awarded with the Kirti Chakra, the peacetime equivalent of the Maha Vir Chakra. Four other soldiers – Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren, Havildar (Gunner) K Palani, Naik Deepak Singh and Sepoy Gurtej Singh – have been awarded Vir Chakra, the third highest wartime gallantry award.
The award was given on the occasion of the 72nd Republic Day, the 26th of January.
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