In one of the rare occasions, President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday awarded Shaurya Chakra to 16-year-old Irfan Ramzan Sheikh for fighting terrorists who attacked his residence in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Shaurya Chakra is usually awarded to armed forces and para-military personnel for 'gallantry otherwise in the face of the enemy'.
During the intervening night of October 16-17 of 2017, terrorists cordoned off the house of Sheikh. His father Mohammad Ramzan was an ex-sarpanch with affiliations to the People's Democratic Party.
When Sheikh, the eldest son of Mohammad Ramzan, opened the door, he found three terrorists in the verandah of the house armed with rifles and grenades.
'Sensing that the militants could harm his family, he exhibited highest degree of courage and faced the militants for sometime so as to avoid their entry inside the house.
'In meantime, his father came out and the militants pounced on him, resulting in scuffle,' the citation for the award read.
Sheikh did not think for a moment for his own safety and pounced upon the militants for safeguarding the life of his father and other family members, it read.
The terrorists also resorted to indiscriminate firing, resulting in severe injury to Sheikh's father. He later succumbed.
However, Sheikh did not lose courage and continued to engage in scuffle with one of the militants, who resorted to indiscriminate firing resulting in severe injuries to the terrorists as well.
On seeing one of their associates injured, the terrorists tried to flee. However, Sheikh chased them and they left the body of their fellow behind.
'Irfan Ramzan Sheikh exhibited the extraordinary show of bravery and maturity in such a small age,' the citation read.
Currently, studying in Class X, Sheikh aspires to become an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer.
The President also awarded two Kirti Chakras and and an equal number of Shaurya Chakras posthumously to soldiers who laid down their lives in Army operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.
The Kirti Chakras were awarded to Sowar Vijay Kumar of the Armoured Corps and Constable Pradip Kumar Panda of the Central Reserve Police Force.
The two died in two separate operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
Rifleman Jaiprakash Oraon and Sepoy Ajay Kumar were awarded Shaurya Chakras for their role in counter terror operations in Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir respectively.
Shaurya Chakras were also awarded to CRPF Deputy Commandant Kuldeep Singh Chahar, Major Pawan Kumar, Rifleman Rathva Lilesh Bhai, Naib Subedhar Anil Kumar Dahiya, CRPF Assistant Commandant Zile Singh, Havildar Jaweed Ahmad Bhat, Havildar Kul Bahadur Thapa, Lieutenant Colonel Arjun Sharma, Captain Abhay Sharma, Major Imliakum Keitzar, Major Rohit Lingwal and Lieutenant Colonel Vikrant Prasher for displaying gallantry during Army operations in the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir.
Kirti Chakra is awarded for 'conspicuous gallantry otherwise than in the face of the enemy' while Shaurya Chakra is awarded for 'gallantry otherwise in the face of the enemy'.
Kovind also awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) to 13 senior officers of the three armed forces.
He presented the Uttam Yuddh Seva Medal (UYSM) to two Army officers, including Lieutenant General Anil Kumar Bhatt, currently the Military Secretary at the Army Headquarters.
Bhatt is also the general officer commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based 15 corps, that takes care of anti-militancy operations in the Valley.
Twenty-six officers of the three armed forces were also awarded Ati Vishisht Seva Medal.
The PVSM is awarded to officers for 'distinguished service of the most exceptional order'.
The UYSM is awarded to officers for 'distinguished service of an exceptional order during war/ conflict/ hostilities' while AVSM is conferred to armed forces personnel for 'distinguished service of an exceptional order'.