An army subedar (sergeant) who died fighting terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir in March has been selected for the Ashok Chakra, the military's highest peacetime gallantry award and equivalent to the Param Vir Chakra, on Independence Day.
According to Army Headquarters, Subedar Surinder Singh of the 3 Sikh Regiment has been selected for the award for 'displaying most conspicuous bravery beyond the call of duty and making the supreme sacrifice'.
Surinder Singh was killed in counter-insurgency operations while commanding a platoon on the Line of Control in the Rajouri sector of Jammu on March 3, 2002.
This is the latest in a series of gallantry awards that Indian soldiers operating in Kashmir have won. In fact, over the last few years, but for a few exceptions, all bravery awards have gone to soldiers who have fought, and mostly been killed, in Jammu & Kashmir.
An army spokesman said the encounter took place when Subedar Singh and his platoon spotted a group of terrorists near the LoC. The soldiers did not open fire, but waited for the terrorists to close in. When the group was hardly a few metres away, the sergeant sprang up and shot one of them dead.
The other terrorists quickly dispersed into the nearby jungles. Subedar Singh then organized a search party and went after them. During the operation, he came under fire from behind a boulder.
With utter disregard to his personal safety and with bullets whizzing about, the sergeant was crawling forward when a terrorist pounced upon him. In the ensuing close combat Surinder Singh shot him dead.
Four other terrorists sneaked into a house in Village Tarala and started firing at the soldiers. According to the spokesman, Surinder Singh then climbed on to the roof and blew up a portion of it with explosives before hurling a grenade into the house and firing on the terrorists hiding inside. Subedar Singh, he said, exhibited "tremendous presence of mind and raw courage".
While the sergeant was retreating after creating the opening, the terrorists threw a grenade at him. Subedar Surinder Singh sustained multiple splinter injuries all over the body, but continued fighting and killed two more terrorists.
He died while being evacuated from the scene of the encounter. But he had killed four of the six terrorists who were slain in that operation.
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