Two members of the Special Forces team that carried out surgical strikes across the LoC in September last year were decorated by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday. Major Rohit Suri of Para Special Forces was decorated with the Kirti Chakra, the country’s second-highest peacetime gallantry award, and Naib Subedar Vijay Kumar was given the Shaurya Chakra.
The awards for members of the Special Forces team were announced on the eve of Republic Day but no citations for their act of gallantry were released then. Even at the investiture ceremony, unlike other awardees, the handout of the description of acts of gallantry of Major Suri and Naib Subedar Kumar had few details. There was no mention of the exact location of the action, except that these were “operations against a terrorist hideout in Jammu and Kashmir”.
Suri, the mission leader of his team, initiated the first assault that took down terrorists in the open, according to details released. “…Major Suri ensured the execution of the task flawlessly with clockwork precision and eliminated four terrorists in close-quarter combat,” the citation read. Naib Subedar Kumar was part of the “close recce” carried out before the assault, which gathered crucial information about hideouts and facilitated mission planning. He was the fire support group commander tasked to provide supporting fire and cover extraction of the team after disengaging from the target.
At the ceremony attended by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, 12 more Shaurya Chakras, 15 Param Vishist Seva Medals, three Uttam Yudh Seva Medals, one bar to Ati Vishist Seva Medals and 22 Ati Vishist Seva Medals were also awarded by the President. It included Shaurya Chakra (posthumous) for Corporal Gursevak Singh of the Air Force for operations against the terrorists at the Pathankot Air Force Station on January 1, 2016.
Eastern Army Commander, Lt General Praveen Bakshi who was overlooked for the post of the army chief in favour of General Bipin Rawat last December was one of the recipients of the Param Vishist Seva Medal.