Twenty personnel of the India-China LAC guarding Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force have been awarded gallantry medals for displaying bravery during standoff and clashes between militaries of the two countries in the eastern Ladakh region last year.
These medals for bravery are among the total 1,380 service medals announced by the Union government for various central and state police forces on the eve of Independence Day.
There are two President's Police Medal for Gallantry (PPMG), 628 Police Medal for Gallantry (PMG), 88 President's police medal for distinguished service and 662 police medals for meritorious service in the latest awards list.
Sub Inspector Amar Deep of Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) and late Head Constable Kale Sunil Dattatraya (posthumously) of the CRPF are the only two recipients of the top bravery medal -- President's Police Medal for Gallantry.
The maximum gallantry medals at 257 (1 PPMG and 256 PMG) were earned by the JKP, followed by the Central Reserve Police Force at 151 (1 PPMG and 150 PMG), an official list released by the Union home ministry said.
Among the 23 gallantry medals for the ITBP, twenty are for operations that took place during the May-June 2020 clashes with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Ladakh where the central paramilitary is deployed shoulder-to-shoulder with the Army as part of its primary mandate to guard the 3,488-km-long icy Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Out of the 20, eight personnel have been awarded the PMG for their gallant act, meticulous planning and tactical insightfulness and for defending the motherland in Galwan Nalla on June 15, the force said in a statement.
Six personnel have been awarded with the PMG for gallant action during violent face off on May 18 in the Finger IV area while the rest six have been decorated with the same medal for their gallant action near Hot Springs in Ladakh on the same day, the statement said.
"This is the highest number of gallantry medals awarded to the force for the bravery of its men in border face offs, skirmishes and border guarding duties," ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.
In eastern Ladakh, the ITBP troops not only effectively used shields to protect themselves but also responded fiercely to advancing Chinese PLA troops and brought the situation under control during "fierce" face offs and skirmishes, the statement said.
"With highest order of professional skills, ITBP troops fought shoulder-to-shoulder and also brought the injured (Army) troops to the rear."
"Even when the ITBP troops fought the whole night, they received minimum casualties by giving befitting reply to the stone pelters of the PLA," it said.
At certain places, the statement said, the troops gave a "determined" standoff for about 17-20 hours throughout the intervening night (June 15-16) in extremely challenging conditions.
"Due to the high-altitude training and survival experience of the force at the icy Himalayan deployments, ITBP troops kept the PLA troops at bay and due to the all out and befitting response of ITBP troops at several fronts, many areas were safeguarded."
"The ITBP troops showed highest level of devotion, courage, determination, utter disregard to personal safety even in injured condition and exhibited great professional skills in the face of violent physical scuffle with the PLA," it said.
Twenty Indian Army soldiers were killed during these clashes. China had claimed the casualty figures on its side were five, which is widely believed to be much higher.
Three ITBP personnel have been awarded the PMG for displaying courage, grit and determination in anti-Naxal operations in Chhattisgarh, the statement said.