President honours surgical strike heroes with gallantry awards

New Delhi: Major Rohit Suri of the Parachute Regiment was conferred the second highest peacetime gallantry award Kirti Chakra by President Pranab Mukherjee here on Monday for successfully leading the army team that carried out cross-border surgical strike last year.

Suri, who was the mission leader of the team which was tasked to carry out the operation against the hideouts of the terrorists across the border, ensured the execution of the task by “his exemplary leadership and courage beyond the call of duty” and eliminated four terrorists in close-quarter combat, an official release said.

Member of the same team, Naib Subedar Vijay Kumar of the Parachute Regiment was presented the Shaurya Chakra for gunning down two terrorists.

Corporal Gursevak Singh of the Indian Air Force (Security), who was killed while fighting terrorists at the Pathankot air base in January last year, was posthumously conferred the Shaurya Chakra.

The Gallantry Awards and Distinguished Service Decorations were presented by the President at a Defence Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.

The President awarded 13 Shaurya Chakras, which include six posthumous awards.

Posthumous winners of the third highest peacetime gallantry award are: Ashu Singh, a Chief Mechanical Engineer who died while trying to control a fire onboard aircraft carrier INS Viraat last year; Naik Shinde Shankar Chandrabhan who died in an operation against terrorists in Kupwara; Captain Tushar Mahajan, Lance Naik Om Prakash and Captain Pawan Kumar who died fighting terrorists hiding in a Pampore building in February 2016.

The President also presented 22 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, one Bar to Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, three Uttam Yuddh Seva Medals and 15 Param Vishisht Seva Medals.

Param Vishisht Seva Medal winners included Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi, head of Eastern Command of the Indian Army, and Lt. Gen. Manoj Kumar Unni, Director General Armed Forces Medical Services.

The surgical strikes on terrorist launchpads across the Line of Control were conducted in September last year following a militant attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri district of Jammu and Kashmir that left 19 jawans dead.