Colonel Bikumalla Santosh Babu, the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar regiment who was among the 20 soldiers that died in the line of duty in brutal hand-to-hand combat with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley on June 15 last year, was today posthumously given the Maha Vir Chakra - the second highest wartime gallantry honour.
The late Colonel's wife B Santoshi and mother Manjula were present at Rashtrapati Bhawan to receive the honour.
#WATCH | Col Santosh Babu accorded Mahavir Chakra posthumously for resisting Chinese Army attack while establishing an observation post in the face of the enemy in Galwan valley in Ladakh sector during Operation Snow Leopard.— ANI (@ANI) November 23, 2021
His mother and wife receive the award from President. pic.twitter.com/vadfvXBz9M
Colonel Babu was tasked to establish an observation post in face of the enemy, his citation for the award noted, saying he organised and briefed his troops troops about the situation with a sound plan and successfully executed the task. "While holding the position his column faced stiff resistance from the adversary who attacked using lethal and sharp weapons along with heavy stone pelting from adjoining heights," read his citation.
"Undaunted by the violent and aggressive action by overwhelming strength of enemy soldiers, the officer in true spirit of service before self, continued to resist the enemy's attempt to pushback Indian troops. Despite being grievously injured, he led from the front with absolute command and control despite hostile conditions to deter the vicious enemy attack at his position," it added.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan, in a tweet, said Col Babu displayed exemplary leadership, astute professionalism and conspicuous bravery in the face of the enemy and made the supreme sacrifice for the nation.
Four other soldiers, Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren, Havildar (Gunner) K Palani, Naik Deepak Singh and Sepoy Gurtej Singh, who also died in the line of duty fighting the Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley, have been conferred with Vir Chakra awards posthumously.
The Indian Army has built a memorial for the ''Gallants of Galwan'' at Post 120 in eastern Ladakh.
The memorial mentioned their heroics under operation ''Snow Leopard'' and the way they evicted the Chinese People''s Liberation Army (PLA) troops from the area while inflicting "heavy casualties" on them.
The gallantry awards and Distinguished Services decorations were presented in a defence investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and several other dignitaries were present at the ceremony.