NEW DELHI March 21: Two of the Army daredevils who were part of the audacious cross-border "surgical strikes" against terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir last year were among the military personnel awarded with gallantry medals at a defence investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday.
Major Rohit Suri (4 Para), who killed four terrorists in close-quarter combat during the surgical strikes on September 29, received the Kirti Chakra, the nation's second highest gallantry award during peacetime, from President Pranab Mukherjee at the ceremony.
Naib Subedar Vijay Kumar, in turn, received the Shaurya Chakra.
Apart from these two, 17 other commandos from 4 and 9 Para Special Forces had figured in this year's Republic Day gallantry awards list for the surgical strikes that sent an unequivocal message to Pakistan to desist from actively aiding and abetting cross-border terrorism against India.
Of them, four were awarded Shaurya Chakras, while 13 got Sena Medals. The commanding officers of the 4 and 9 Para battalions, Col Harpreet Sandhu and Col Kapil Yadav, in turn, were awarded Yudh Seva Medals. The others will receive their medals in subsequent investiture ceremonies.
The gallantry citations, incidentally, say the strikes were carried out against "terrorist hideouts in Jammu and Kashmir" since PoK is considered to be an integral part of Indian territory, which is illegally occupied by Pakistan.
As was earlier reported by TOI, Major Suri headed one of the eight-member teams that went across the Line of Control for the strikes against the terror launch pads in PoK, in which some Pakistani Army regulars were also killed.
"By his decisive thinking, professional approach, warrior ethos, exemplary leadership and courage beyond the call of duty, Major Suri ensured the execution of the task flawlessly with clockwork precision and eliminated four terrorists in close-quarter combat," said his citation.
Naib Subedar Kumar, in turn, was also part of a strike team tasked to carry out operations against the terror launch pads, apart from playing "a crucial role during the close reconnaissance carried out prior to the assault".
He killed two terrorists while destroying the launch pad by effectively use of his grenade launcher. "One of the terrorists was still firing at him.
Realising the danger to the life of his buddy and other members of the assault group, he immediately retaliated with his personal weapon, pushed his buddy to safety, charged on the terrorist and eliminated him," said the citation.
In an interview to TOI in January, Army chief General Bipin Rawat had warned Pakistan that it should stop actively aiding cross-border infiltration and terrorism.
Pointing to the "surgical strikes" on September 29, Gen Rawat had said: "The operation's unequivocal message was that we have the capability, we are aware of the terrorist infrastructure that lies across the border.