Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami from the Army’s elite Para Special Forces has been awarded Ashok Chakra, the country’s highest peacetime gallantry award, posthumously for his role in saving two colleagues during an encounter with militants in Kashmir last year.
Another of his colleague, Subedar Mahendra Singh was awarded Kirti Chakra for his valiant actions in the same operation.
These are among the 365 gallantry awards and other defence decorations approved by President Pranab Mukherjee on the eve of the 67th Republic Day Celebrations.
These include four Kirti Chakras, 11 Shaurya Chakras, one Bar to Sena Medal, 48 Sena Medal, four Nao Sena Medal, two Vayu Sena Medal in addition to 298 Distinguished Service medals.
Late night on September 2 last year, Lance Naik Goswami was engaged in a fierce encounter with terrorists hiding in the Haphruda forest in Kupwara, North Kashmir.
When two of his colleagues were wounded, he rushed to rescue them, braving the volley of fire despite getting grievously wounded himself.
In the same operation, Subedar Mehendra Singh moved with Lance Naik Goswami to evacuate his colleagues, drawing heavy fire in the process. He returned fire and killed one terrorist at close quarters which also bought them additional time, officials said. He was awarded the Kirti Chakra for his “exemplary leadership, selflessness and courage beyond compare”.
The other Kirti Chakra was posthumously awarded to Sepoy Jagdish Chand from the Defence Security Corps for his display of raw courage in tackling terrorists during the attack on Pathankot air base on January 2.
When terrorists entered the mess in the base and opened fire, Sepoy Chand, unmindful of his own safety, ran after the closest terrorist, chased and overpowered him. He snatched the terrorist’s weapon and shot him but fell to the bullets of two other terrorists behind.
Of the eight Shaurya Chakra given to Army personnel, two were awarded posthumously.
Among the four Navy gallantry awards, three of them went to personnel at INS Shikra, the naval air station in Mumbai, for their efforts in the rescue of vessels in distress.
In the Air Force, the two Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry) went to Wing Commander Nirmal Kumar Bakshi and Wing Commander Rajiv Dobhal, both Mi-17 helicopter pilots, for their role in Operation Maitri to provide relief operations in adverse weather conditions in Nepal following the devastating earthquake last year.
Of the 8 Shaurya Chakra given to Army personnel, two were awarded posthumously.