Nineteen personnel of two Special Forces (SF) battalions which carried out surgical strikes along the Line of Control (LoC) last September were decorated Wednesday with gallantry awards, including a Kirti Chakra and five Shaurya Chakra, on the eve of the Republic Day.
Departing from practice, the Army did not release the citations for the acts that got the honours — the operation has remained classified till date.
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Major Rohit Suri of 4 Para SF was awarded the Kirti Chakra while Colonel Kapil Yadav, Commanding Officer of 9 Para SF, and Colonel Harpreet Sandhu, Commanding Officer of 4 Para SF, were awarded the Yudh Seva Medal for the operation.
The list of awards for these two units includes a Kirti Chakra, India’s second highest peacetime gallantry award after the Ashok Chakra, five Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peacetime gallantry award, and 13 Sena Medal for gallantry.
Besides these awards, 12 men from these units have been given Mention in Despatches which is meant to recognise distinguished and meritorious service in operational areas and acts of gallantry.
The Army did not release the citations of the awarded personnel. An official source said: “Every citation contains the description of the qualifying act, and putting that out will let everything be known about the operation, including tactics. Special Forces operations have to be kept secret. We also did not release citations for gallantry awards after the operations in Myanmar in 2015.”
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The two SF battalions are also deployed for counter-insurgency duties in Jammu and Kashmir and some of the awards to the personnel could possibly be for operations against terrorists. But official sources confirmed that the bulk of the awards to 4 Para SF and 9 Para SF in the list are for the surgical strikes.
The two units struck at terror launch pads along the LoC on September 29 last year, in response to a terror attack on the Uri Army camp on September 18, which led to the death of 19 Army soldiers.
Deviating from past practice about LoC operations, the government publicly announced that surgical strikes had been successfully conducted though it did not give out operational details. No photograph or video of the operation, in which seven terror launch pads were reportedly destroyed, have been released till date.