Galwan hero could be posthumously awarded Mahavir Chakra on R-Day
Colonel Santosh Babu, who was martyred in Galwan Valley clash last June along with 19 others, will most likely be awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthumously on Republic Day. The 37-year-old braveheart was the Commanding Officer of the Bihar Regiment that fought against China's People's Liberation Army. "Col Babu is likely to be awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthumously on this Republic Day," sources told ANI.
Context: What happened in Galwan Valley last year?
Miffed at India's infrastructure push along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), PLA soldiers attempted transgressions. On June 15, just as the Indian side waited for PLA to retreat to its original posts, the latter attacked with rods and bricks. The violent clash ended with the martyrdom of 20 Indian soldiers. China also lost a significant number of soldiers but never acknowledged the deaths.
India mulling to honor braveheart with wartime decoration
Evidently, the Galwan Valley clash was the first time in four decades that blood was spilled along LAC. After the incident, India hardened its stand, solely blaming Beijing for bloodshed. New Delhi also sent a massive number of troops to the area. And now, by considering a Galwan Valley braveheart for a wartime decoration, India is sending the message that it won't forget sacrifices.
Top Army brass recommended his name
As per ANI, the top brass of the Army suggested Col Babu's name for the honor. To note, the revered wartime Chakra series nestles the Paramvir Chakra (the highest honor), Mahavir Chakra, and Vir Chakra. Separately, Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra, and Shaurya Chakra are part of the peacetime gallantry award series. India has not awarded the Mahavir Chakra to anyone since the Kargil War.
Months before Galwan clash, Col Babu's transfer was approved
After Col Babu was martyred, his uncle Ganesh Babu revealed that his transfer to Hyderabad was approved in February. He had been eyeing a transfer for a long time. "Even before the formalities of his transfer were completed, the Centre announced lockdown in the country and he was asked to continue in the Indo-China border at Ladakh till further orders," he had told HT.
He had also assured parents he would visit soon
Separately, recalling his last conversation with his son, Col Babu's father Upender, a retired State Bank of India employee, said he was due to return home in September. "He spoke to me only two days ago and told me he might get relieved in September once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. But he has left us forever," a grieving Upender had said at the time.
'I am proud he gave up his life for country'
"He was a brilliant guy both in studies and duties. I never expected that he would desert us like this. But I am proud he gave up his life for the country," the father had said.
Meanwhile, India, China clashed last week, both sides suffered injuries
On a related note, nine rounds of military-level talks have failed to end tensions between both nuclear-armed neighbors. In fact, on January 20, PLA attempted to change the status quo in Sikkim's Naku La region but got a stern response. In the physical brawl that ensued, 20 PLA and four Indian soldiers were injured. The Indian Army called this incident a "minor face-off."