Indian Army’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) last September targeting Pakistani militants had invited all out praise from the world. At that time though, the Indian government chose not to divulge the identity of 19 soldiers who were part of the secret operation.
Their identity was, however, made known to the people on the occasion of 68th Republic Day when they were awarded gallantry medals, including a Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry award after the Ashoka Chakra.
Times of India claimed that it has accessed the citations of the gallantry awards in which the Army gave detailed account of the operation and courage of the soldiers.
A total of 19 soldiers from the Parachute Regiment were the part of the operation which was successfully carried out on an ‘amavasya’ (moonless) night of September 28-29. The TOI report said that one Colonel, five Majors, two Captains, one Subedar, two Naib Subedars, three Havildars, one Lance Naik and four Paratroopers of the 4th and 9th battalions of the regiment took part in the strike.
While Major Rohit Suri of 4 Para was awarded the Kirti Chakra for displaying inspiring leadership, Colonel Harpreet Sandhu, Commanding Officer of 4 Para SF and Colonel Kapil Yadav, Commanding Officer of 9 Para SF, were honoured with the Yudh Seva Medal for the operation.
The team also won four Shaurya Chakras, the third highest peacetime gallantry award, and 13 Seva Medals.
The report said that Army wanted to avenge the killing of its 17 jawans in a terror attack launched by four Pakistani militants on September 18 and thus it had started planning about the surgical strike immediately after one of the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades. But it was awaiting an 'amavasya' (moon-less) night to execute the operation.
On the intervening night of September 28-29, Major Rohit Suri, heading an eight-member strike team, was finally given green signal by his superiors to carry out strikes. After carrying out a recce, the report said, Major Suri directed his team to engage the terrorists in the open at a launchpad. Suri and his mate came neutralised two terrorists from a distance of mere 50 meter.
Later Major Suri noticed movement of two jihadis in the nearby jungle. The movement was immediately tracked with an UAV. Ignoring his safety, Major Suri intercepted the militants and eliminated both of them.
The citations of the awarded personnel, TOI reported, further said that Colonel Harpreet Sandhu was tasked to undertake two simultaneous strikes on militants launch pads and he executed the plan perfectly.
Another Major, who was honoured with Shaurya Chakra, was tasked to undertake close-target surveillance of the launchpads on September 27. The officer, along with his team, crossed the LoC two days prior to the strike and kept the target under close surveillance. The officer destroyed a weapon shelter, killing two terrorists.
During the attack, the team faced fire from a nearby weapon shelter. The Major cleverly crawled near the shelter and managed to neutralise the terrorist.
The third Major, who too was awarded the Shaurya Chakra, along with his mate destroyed a terror shelter, killing all militants sleeping inside, the report said.
The fourth Major was awarded a Sena medal for destroying an automatic weapon fortification with his grenade attack and killing two terrorists at close range.
The fifth Major and his mate spotted three terrorists carrying RPG (rocket-propelled grenades). While the Major killed two of them, his buddy neutralised the third one. All three of them were shot dead when they were about the fire the rockets at the squad led by the fourth Major.
A Naib Subedar, who was also honoured with the Shaurya Chakra, killed two terrorists and destroyed their launchpad.
While no soldier was martyred in the operation, a Paratrooper suffered injuries. After spotting two terrorists, he chased them but accidently stepped on a mine, which blew up his right foot. The commando, however, displayed a courageous act and killed one terrorist. The trooper was part of the surveillance team.