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Gallantry awards for IAF men killed in friendly fire copter crash

THE ASIAN AGE. | PAWAN BALI
Published : Jan 26, 2020, 4:35 am IST
Updated : Jan 26, 2020, 4:36 am IST

Fifteen ITBP officials were awarded the police service medal.

IAF’s air defence missile had shot down Mi-17 helicopter in Budgam in the Kashmir Valley minutes after Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft had entered Indian air space on February 27, 2019, a day after pre-emptive strike by Indian Air Force at terrorists camp at Balakot.  (Photo: AP/File)
 IAF’s air defence missile had shot down Mi-17 helicopter in Budgam in the Kashmir Valley minutes after Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft had entered Indian air space on February 27, 2019, a day after pre-emptive strike by Indian Air Force at terrorists camp at Balakot. (Photo: AP/File)

New Delhi: Squadron leader Ninad Anil Mandavgane and Squadron leader Siddharth Vashisht, pilots of the Mi-17 helicopter which was brought down by friendly fire on February 27 last year, have been bestowed posthumously with Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry).

The other four IAF personnel, Sergeant Vikrant Sahrawat, Sergeant Vishal Kumar Pandey, Corporal Pankaj Kumar, Corporal Deepak Pandey who also died during the chopper crash have been “Mention-in-Despatches”.  

“Instituted on November 25, 1950 for distinguished and meritorious service in operational areas and acts of gallantry which are not of a sufficiently high order to warrant the grant of gallantry awards,” said Indian Air Force website on “Mention-in-Despatches”.

IAF’s air defence missile had shot down Mi-17 helicopter in Budgam in the Kashmir Valley minutes after Pakistan Air Force fighter aircraft had entered Indian air space on February 27, 2019, a day after pre-emptive strike by Indian Air Force at terrorists camp at Balakot.

President on Saturday approved awards of 409 gallantry and other defence decorations to armed forces and others on the eve of 71st Republic Day celebrations.

Six soldiers from Indian Army have been awarded the Shaurya Chakra, including one posthumously, for displaying gallantry during anti-militancy and anti-insurgency operations.

Lt. Col. Jyoti Lama, Major Konjengbham Bijendra Singh, Naib Subedhar Narender Singh and Naik Naresh Kumar are among the recipients of the award.  Naib Subedar Sombir was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra. Naib Subedar Sombir was part of the assault team of a Rashtriya Rifles which planned and executed an operation in which three hard-core terrorists were eliminated in J&K.

A BSF officer, Dipak Kumar Mondal, who was killed by cattle smugglers along the Indo-Bangla border in Tripura in 2017 and troops who thwarted infiltration bids and unprovoked firing attempts from Pakistan have been decorated with police gallantry medals on the eve of the 71st Republic Day.

A total of nine personnel, with six posthumous, have been awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry.

Fifteen ITBP officials were awarded the police service medal. Second-in-command-rank officer Ratan Singh Sonal, Section Officer C. Durai Raj and deputy inspector generals A.S. Rawat and Nishith Chandra were among the officials decorated with the distinguished and meritorious medal.

While cordoning the target house, Naib Subedar Sombir deployed himself and his buddy to cover the most likely escape route of terrorists. One of the terrorist tried to break the cordon by firing indiscriminately and lobbing grenades on them, which resulted in grievous injuries to his buddy. Seeing his buddy in danger and not caring about personal safety, Naib Subedar Sombir seized the initiative and engaged the terrorist. In close quarter battle, Naib Subedar Sombir killed the foreign terrorist. During his extremely courageous act, Naib Subedar Sombir received grievous Gun Shot Wounds to his chest and neck due to which he later succumbed.

Lt. Col. Jyoti Lama created a vibrant intelligence network in Manipur and after meticulous planning relentlessly led his Company in apprehending fourteen hardcore terrorists. On 23 July 2019, he based on a specific input regarding move of two terrorists laid an ambush in a village and eliminated them. On challenging the terrorists to drop their weapons and surrender, Lieutenant Lama drew heavy fire  and exhibiting raw courage  engaged the terrorist in an intense firefight and eliminated a hardcore terrorist.

The other terrorist trying to escape fired indiscriminately towards him. "The officer unmindful of his personal safety and exhibiting nerves of steel, once again retaliated with effective fire, thereby eliminating the second hardcore terrorist," reads the  citation.

Tags: gallantry awards, helicopter crash