Chandigarh, January 20
Naik Anil Kumar of 1 Para was among the bravehearts, who had stormed and liberated Nariman House during the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008. With victory at his feet, a few months later, the commando etched another story of gallantry. This time, however, with his blood, as he fell fighting a similar enemy but in a different location.
On a counter-terrorist operation in the rough jungles of Kupwara in March 2009, a far cry from the earlier cosmopolitan battleground, Anil spotted terrorists and opened fire. Retaliatory fire came in from three directions and in the melee, he rushed forward to rescue a buddy. Anil received gunshot wounds, but returned fire, killing two militants. He, however, succumbed to his injuries, and was decorated with the Sena Medal. Three Army commandos associated with the Mumbai operations were among 23 personnel awarded the Sena Medal at the Western Command investiture ceremony in Pathankot today. Four of them, however, were posthumous. Other tales of heroism that flowed forth at the ceremony included that of Lt Satbir Singh from the Army Education Corps (AEC), who too laid down his life combating terrorists in the North-East. Detecting terrorist movements while leading a team of commandos and police, he opened fire and killed one of them. After rescuing a wounded soldier, he again engaged the terrorists, killing another.
Naik Kishori Lal of 8 Grenadiers and Pankaj Gurung of 4/8 Gorkha Rifles also attained martyrdom, while displaying the same legacy of courage and leadership. Pankaj was leading a scout party near Manipur when on observing suspicious movements, he forewarned other security teams. In the ensuing action, he received injuries on his chest and arms, but held on to his position and engaged the enemy. His timely warning and subsequent action averted a major incident.
Kishori was leading a small team to cut off an escape route of terrorists in Kupwara, when the troops came under intense fire. He was hit in the leg, but he outmaneuvered the terrorists and came face to face with them from the flanks. In the ensuing gunfight, Kishori was fatally injured. Major Sanjay Kandwal of Kumaon Regiment and Naik Sate Singh of the Parachute Regiment were decorated for their leadership, courage and acumen during the Mumbai carnage. After evacuating scores of foreign and Indian hostages from the Taj Hotel, they charged into a bar where terrorists were holed up and neutralised them.
Of the 23 gallantry awards, 19 went to the Infantry, including the Parachute and Special Forces. The other recipients were one each from the Armoured Regiment, Army Ordnance Corps, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers and the AEC. Three officers, Maj-Gen (now Lt- Gen) GM Nair (Infantry), Maj-Gen Surendra Nath (Armoured) and Brig SB Negi (Infantry) were awarded the Vashisht Seva Medal for meritorious services
The medals were presented by the General Officer Commanding, Western Command, Lt Gen Shankar Ranjan Ghosh. A large number of senior officers and their wives were also present on the occasion.