Heroes of surgical strike receive gallantry medals

New Delhi: Major Rohit Suri, who led the army team that carried out the daring cross-border surgical strike last year, was today decorated with second highest peacetime gallantry award Kirti Chakra by President Pranab Mukherjee.

Corporal Gursevak Singh of Indian Air Force was posthumously conferred the Saurya Chakra for putting up a valiant fight against terrorists who had attacked the frontline Pathankot air base in January last year.

The gallantry awards were given by the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley among others.

Suri, from the Parachute Regiment, was the mission leader of the team which was tasked to carry out the operation against the hideout of the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, an official release briefing about the awardees said.

It said Major Suri showed exemplary leadership and courage beyond call of duty and "once all terrorists were neutralised", he directed the strike team to move to jungle towards North West of the target." 

Suri displayed utter disregard to his personal safety and showing "raw courage", neutralised two terrorists in a close quarter combat, it said.

Naib Subedar Vijay Kumar was conferred the Shaurya Chakra for his daredevilry in killing two terrorists in the operation despite coming under fire.

"Naib Subedar Vijay Kumar opened extremely heavy volume of fire onto the terrorist hideout, thereby enabling smooth closing in by the assault group to the target," the release said.

A number of other personnel who had participated in the operations were also awarded.

The army conducted surgical strikes on terrorist launchpads across the Line of Control in September last year, after a militant attack on an army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir claimed the lives of 19 jawans. The government, so far, has not revealed the number of terrorists killed in the strike.

Lt General Devraj Anbu, Lt Gen Abhay Krishna and Lt Gen Rajendra Nimbhorkar were conferred Uttam Yuddh Seva medal. A total of 22 personnel were given Ati Vishisht Seva medal, while 15 were bestowed with Param Vishisht Seva medal.

Corporal Singh was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for displaying exemplary courage in preventing terrorists from entering the technical area of the Pathankot airbase, thereby ensuring safety of all aircraft and other strategic assets.

Those who were conferred Shaurya Chakra included Naik Bir Singh of 21st Parachute Regiment (Special Forces), Captain Gaurav Sharad Jadhav of 36th Battalion, Rastriya Rifles, Major Rahul Dev Singh of third battalion, Rashtriya Rifles and Sepoy Hari Chettri, 9th Battalion of Rastriya Rifles.

The personnel who were given the award posthumously are Naik Shinde Shankar Chandrabhan from 41st Battalion, Rastriya Rifles, Captain Tushar Mahaja of 9 Para, Captain Pawan Kumar of 10 Para and Lance Naik Om Parkash of 9 Para.