On the night of September 2-3 last year, Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami, part of the elite Special Forces, walked into an ambush inside Haphruda forest in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district. The face-off started at 8.15 pm when four terrorists opened fire at the Army personnel, injuring three of them.
Goswami dashed forward to rescue the injured men, killing one terrorist and drawing fire from others. He was hit on the thigh and the abdomen, but he continued to charge forward, killing another terrorist at point blank range and helping his colleagues eliminate two others. Goswami later succumbed to his injuries.
On Monday, President Pranab Mukherjee announced that Goswami would be conferred the Ashok Chakra — the highest gallantry award in the country. Mukherjee also approved the award of two Kirti Chakras and eight Shaurya Chakras to Indian Army personnel on the occasion of Republic Day.
Among those conferred the Kirti Chakra is Sepoy Jagdish Chand of the defence service corps platoon, who died in the Pathankot terror attack. Chand was transferred to Pathankot from Leh just a few days before the incident. When terrorists attacked, Chand ran after one of them and snatched his weapon before killing him. Two more terrorists in the vicinity opened fire on Chand, killing him on the spot.
Similar courage was shown by Colonel Santosh Mahadik, who has been conferred the Shaurya Chakra. Mahadik, who had been commanding the 41 Rashtriya Rifles since July 2014, was known in Kupwara for undertaking initiatives in the fields of education, sports and healthcare. On November 17, 2015, he led a search operation following an input about the presence of terrorists in Manigah forest.
Colonel Santosh, with his Quick Reaction Team, headed to the site, where they came under fire. Pinned down, he maneuvered to outflank the terrorists, giving his troops a chance to take cover. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds but kept the terrorists pinned down till he was evacuated. He later succumbed to his injuries.