India lost 20 soldiers during Operation Snow Leopard while establishing an observation post in the enemy's face in the Galwan valley in the Ladakh sector.
New Delhi: Galwan valley clash hero Colonel Santosh Babu was awarded the second-highest wartime gallantry medal – the Mahavir Chakra (posthumously) by President Ram Nath Kovind in an investiture ceremony on Tuesday (November 23). Late Colonel's mother and wife received the award from the President.
Santosh Babu was awarded the gallantry medal for resisting the Chinese Army attack while establishing an observation post in the enemy's face in the Galwan valley in the Ladakh sector during Operation Snow Leopard.
"Col Bikumalla Santosh Babu, Commanding officer 16 BIHAR deployed in Galwan Valley (Eastern Ladakh) during Operation Snow Leopard was tasked to establish an observation post in face of the enemy. Organising and briefing his troops about the situation with a sound plan, he successfully executed the task. While holding the position his column faced stiff resistance from the adversary who attacked using lethal and sharp weapons along with heavy stone pelting from adjoining heights. Undaunted by the violent and aggressive action by overwhelming strength of enemy soldiers, the officer in true spirit of service before self, continued to resist the enemy's attempt to pushback Indian troops," the citation said.
"Despite being grievously injured, Colonel Bikumalla Santosh Babu led from the front with absolute command and control despite hostile conditions to deter the vicious enemy attack at his position. In the skirmish that broke out and ensuing hand to hand combat with enemy soldiers, he valiantly resisted the enemy attack till his last breath, inspiring and motivating his troops to hold ground," it said.
"Colonel Bikumalla Santosh Babu displayed exemplary leadership and astute professionalism. He showed conspicuous bravery in the face of enemy and made supreme sacrifice for the nation," the citation added.
Meanwhile, other Army personnel, including Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren, Havildar K Palani, Naik Deepak Singh and Sepoy Gurtej Singh, will receive their Vir Chakras (posthumously) for their gallant actions against the vicious attack by the Chinese Army in the Galwan valley in June last year as part of the Operation Snow Leopard.
India lost 20 troops in the fiercest clash between the two sides in a long time. The Chinese also suffered significant casualties. The clash led to the hardening of India's stand, which has allowed troops to use weapons during patrolling after using unorthodox weapons by Chinese troops.