Category Archives: Inspiration

K Prasad Babu – The Sub-Inspector who Singlehandedly Fought Off 200 Naxals to Save His Colleagues!

On January 26, 2014, Karanam Venkata Ramana Naidu, a retired circle officer of the Andhra Pradesh Police, collected the Ashok Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, from the then President Pranab Mukherjee on behalf of his slain son K Prasad Babu, a sub-inspector in the State police’s anti-Maoist Greyhounds special operations force.

On April 16, 2013, Babu had heroically saved the lives of four fellow officers and taken out nine high ranking Maoist insurgents before he died on the battlefield. This brave officer from Marturu village in Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh, was only 32-years-old when he was fatally tortured and killed by Maoist insurgents. Going through the citation for Prasad Babu’s Ashok Chakra, one cannot help but marvel at the bravery he displayed on that fateful day.

Prasad Babu joined the Andhra Pradesh Police in 2004, and his talents in the field soon earned him a transfer to the elite Greyhounds division, one of the best anti-insurgency forces in India that specialises in anti-Maoist operations and possesses the unique ability to engage in jungle warfare. He was made for the Greyhounds and the events of April 16, 2013, truly reflect this facet.

Based on “credible information about the large-scale movement of Maoists near the Andhra Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border,” five Assault Units of the Greyhounds were deployed. On the night before April 16, these Greyhound units carefully navigated 40 km of thick jungles marked by landmines and other armed militias. However, as these units approached the core area of their operation by 3:30 a.m. on April 16, they came under heavy fire from 70 Maoist personnel indiscriminately firing their automatic rifles and blasting IEDs. Despite coming under heavy fire, Prasad Babu and his unit made a beeline towards the Maoists and eliminated nine of their top cadre members while injuring many more.

“Next day the helicopter made five aerial sorties and evacuated the Commandos. However, when 19 commandos along with Shri Prasad Babu were to be picked up in the last sortie, about 60-70 Maoists, along with 50-armed militia, fired on the helicopter and also on the Greyhounds Assault Units,” reads the Ashok Chakra citation.

Of the 19 commandoes yet to be picked up, 14 boarded the helicopter, while the 5 left behind, including Prasad Babu, began firing back in retaliation. While the helicopter had successfully managed to evacuate 14 commandos, the 5 left behind were now fighting back against a combination of Maoist and other armed militia forces, who were now steadily advancing towards the helipad. “Shri Prasad Babu held the Naxals at bay and fired with grit, determination and with utmost devotion duty putting his life in certain risk,” reads the citation. Once the helicopter took off, the Maoists and other armed militia regrouped and began encircling the five left behind, firing their automatic rifles and throwing grenades towards them.

Fortunately for the encircled five, there was an exit available to the south of where they were trapped. With the number of armed insurgents now reaching approximately 200, Prasad Babu saw no other option but to urge the remaining four commandos to retreat from the south. Instead of moving along with them, Prasad Babu bravely decided to stand his ground and give cover, holding off 200 insurgents singlehandedly. He was eventually captured, tortured and killed, but saved the lives of not just the 14 who were evacuated, but four of his fellow commandos who managed to reach the safe zone thanks to his heroics. He deserved the Ashok Chakra.

Manohar Prahlad Awati – Indian Navy’s Greatest Heroes & Father of Indian Navy’s Circumnavigation Adventures

In November 2018, India bid farewell to one of its most legendary and decorated war veterans, Vice Admiral (retired) Manohar Prahlad Awati. His demise indeed marks the end of an era for the defence forces. Aged 91, Admiral Awati breathed his last in Vinchurni, his native village, located in the Satara district of Maharashtra. He leaves behind an irreplaceable abyss in the history of Indian Navy.

Also known as the father of Indian Navy’s circumnavigation adventures, he had quite an eventful and illustrious career which ranged from capturing three enemy ships carrying contraband goods to the destruction of an enemy submarine.

Born on September 7, 1927, Awati first donned the uniform when he was selected for the Royal Indian Navy in 1945. An expert in signal communication, the iconic naval officer also had the credit of serving in many naval vessels like INS Ranjit, INS Venduruthy, INS Betwa, INS Tir and INS Mysore. However, it was during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, when Awati’s commandership played a significant role in determining India’s fate.

Deployed as the commanding officer of INS Kamorta, his name went down in history for gallantly holding the fort against the enemy forces for almost a fortnight—a successful feat for which he was awarded the Vir Chakra. Operating in the extremely dangerous territory with constant danger to his ship from enemy mines and submarines, an undeterred Awati went on a probing spree across the enemy- defended harbours of Bangladesh before finally striking a massive blow. Awati not only attacked and captured three enemy ships with contraband goods but also gained an enemy submarine contact that was to meet a brutal end at his hands. Anecdotes from Admiral Awati’s war days would be incomplete without mentioning the iconic .38 calibre Webley Revolver, a token of surrender that was handed over to him by two senior Pakistan Navy officers during the 1971 War. He presented the revolver to National Defence Academy as a souvenir in 2015, and it now rests in the museum of the premier tri-services military training institution.

Between 1976 and 1977, Admiral Awati served as the Commandant of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and even after being posted out and shouldering other responsibilities, he made it a point to attend every passing out parade of the Academy; a practice he continued till the year of his death.

Completing his duty-watch in active service as the Flag-Officer-Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command in 1983, Awati’s post-retirement contribution for 35 years had a national resonance. With little or no resources, he created the Maritime History Society in Mumbai and instilled an awareness about India’s rich maritime heritage in a tenaciously sea-blind society.  The most significant contribution that Awati made was to instil in India the spirit of adventure and the forgotten tradition of sea-faring.

The legacy left behind by Admiral Awati would continue to inspire not just the officers serving in the force but also those aspiring to serve the country.

Chetan Kumar Cheetah – Despite Suffering Nine Bullet Injuries, CRPF Officer Resumes Duty

Almost a year after the fierce gun battle in Hajin area of Bandipora in North Kashmir, which left him almost dead, CRPF’s Chetan Kumar Cheetah has finally resumed active duty as Commandant in Force Headquarter in Delhi last week. Donning a Khaki uniform, wearing an eye-patch on his right eye, and metal glasses, Cheetah told India Today, “I am proud to resume my duty again. It is good to be back.”

Referring to the uniform, he laughed and said, “This is my second skin.” Cheetah’s survival was nothing short of a miracle. The brave soldier took 9 bullets in an encounter between terrorists and security forces in the wee hours of February 14, 2017, in Hajin area of Bandipora. Cheetah was conferred the Kirti Chakra for his bravery. The Citation of the Award read:

“On 13th February 2917, Shri Chetan Kumar Cheetah, Commandant, 45-Bn, CRPF received an intelligence input, from SSP Bandipora about the presence of two LeT foreign militants in Parry Mohalla, Hajin under PS-Hajjin, Dist. Bandipora, J&K. Based on the intelligence, an operation was planning jointly by Shri Chetan Kumar Cheetah, Commandant, 45-Bn CRPF, CO 13 RR, and SDPO, Sumbal.  It was decided that the troops of 13 RR will lay the initial cordon and Commandant 45 Bn, CRPF along with his troops of 13 RR will carry out the assault on the hidden militants. Accordingly, on 14.2.2017 at 0500 hrs, a Cordon and search operation was launched by troops C, D Coys and QAT of 45 Bn CRPF under the overall commandant of Shri Chetan Kumar Cheetah and SOG, J&K Police, Bandipora, in Parry Mohalla, Hajin.

Since the input of the presence of two foreign militants was very reliable, Commandant 45 Bn and CO 13 RR decided to check and ensure that cordon of the support of the local populace. Later, the slain terrorist was identified as the dreaded LeT ‘A’ category terrorist Abu Haris. Troops recovered 1 AK Rile with 04 magzines and 71 rounds of ammunition and hand grenade from the slain terrorist.

During the operation, Shri Chetan Kumar Cheetah, CO, displayed exceptional leadership qualities, rare grit and moral courage risking his own life in neutralizing the dreaded terrorist before he could cause further fatalities to his fellow troops. Undaunted to the pestilent attack by the second terrorist, and, despite being severely wounded he stood his ground and continued to fire leaving the terrorist with no option but to flee.  Shri Chetan Kumar Cheetah emplaced indelible example of chivalry, spirit of selfless sacrifice and sterling qualities of leadership.”

Doctors who attended on Cheetah said he has shown a steely resolve to respond to their intensive medical care that went on for close to about two months. “Cheetah was in coma for 16 days and spent a month in the ICU before being discharged. He had suffered bullet injuries in his brain, right eye, abdomen, both the arms, left hand and in the buttock region. According to doctors, the hopes for vision returning to Cheetah’s right eye are “bleak” although his left eye which was also injured due to splinter injuries has been restored. The bullet wounds are still visible on his hand, where the flesh seems to have been cut off.

After he was discharged from AIIMS, Cheetah was desperate to rejoin the CRPF, seeking a posting with the CoBRA battalion, which fights Maoists in Chhattisgarh. However, senior CRPF officials have said that Cheetah will require another two years before he can resume combat duties. However, Chetan Cheetah’s fighting spirit seemed every bit alive, “If my force and my country want me to go to field area and do operations, there will be no hesitation.” His return, post his recovery, truly shows the willpower of the Indian soldiers along with their unconditional commitment to the nation.

The soldier Who Saved Arunachal Pradesh From Chinese

The story of Jaswant Singh Rawat is awe-inspiring for its selfless heroism and bravery. In the last phase of the 1962 Sino-Indian war, Jaswant Singh Rawat fought off a section of Chinese troops over 3 days single-handedly an entire troop of hundreds of Chinese army men on a mountain, is a legend revered by jawans who are now posted near Jaswantgarh, the place where he was martyred.

It was the tail end of the Indo-Chinese war in 1962. The Sino-Indian border, an unfenced 1000-kilometre stretch at altitudes of 14,000 feet, characterised by freezing climes and inhabitable rocky terrain, was the unfortunate battleground. The Chinese troops were advancing over the Himalayan border, claiming Indian land, while the Indian troops bravely fought them off. Weeks before the ceasefire was called for between the two countries, Jaswant Singh Rawat’s battalion, The Garhwal Rifles, was engaged in an intense battle with the Chinese army at Nauranang. Soon though, the battalion was called back, citing lack of resources and manpower.

But Rawat, a true-blue soldier, decided to stay back and fight. According to local legends, he enlisted the help of Nura and Sela, two local Monpa girls from Arunachal Pradesh, to set up a firing ground, in what would be called the battle of Nauranang. He picked three areas to set up his weapons. For the next three days, he incessantly fired at the Chinese army from these spots. Almost 300 soldiers were shot dead.

The Chinese army, fearing that they were up against a large troop, stopped in their tracks. The illusion that Rawat had wanted to create worked. The Chinese troops had no clear idea about the number of men they were up against, and had no way of finding out. It took time, but the enemy troops finally learnt the truth. On November 17, 1962, Rawat was surrounded from all sides by the Chinese troops. When the attack began, he knew he would be captured. He then shot himself dead to avoid ending up their prisoner. Meanwhile, a grenade blast killed Sela, but the troops managed to capture Nura alive.

The legend goes on to say that the Chinese troops cut off his head to take home as a souvenir. After the war, the Chinese army returned his head, and, impressed by his valour as a lone warrior, also gifted a bust of Rawat made of brass. Some stories say that Rawat didn’t kill himself but was caught by the Chinese troops and hung. Soon, the ceasefire was ordered, and the war was over. The area where Rawat last stood his ground was named Jaswantgarh. A hut was built over that area, where a dedicated staff prepares his bed, shines his shoes, irons his clothes, all as if he were still alive. He was bestowed with the Mahavir Chakra posthumously, and is still considered a serving officer. He is the only soldier in the history of the Indian Army who has risen through the ranks after his death. He was ‘promoted’ to the rank of Major General 40 years after his death, and is still believed to ‘command’ troops guarding India’s eastern frontiers with China. It is said that the jawans posted in Arunachala Pradesh or those who pass by Jaswantgarh, even today, stop to pay their respects.

The Maha Vir Chakra Awardee from Nagaland

Subedar Imliakum Ao was born on July 25, 1976 in the village of Chuchuyimpang in Mokokchung, Nagaland. His father is a retired state government employee and his mother is a homemaker. He has five siblings – four brothers and a sister. Two of his brothers are in the Nagaland police, one is in the civil services, and another is in the army. After completing his matriculation, he joined the 2nd Battalion of the Naga Regiment on May 4, 1994.

Between the months of May and July 1999, the Indian government launched Operation Vijay in the Kargil sector of Jammu & Kashmir. The Indian Army, supported by the Air Force, had to recapture the areas on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LOC), which had been infiltrated by Pakistani troops and militants. The 2nd Battalion of the Naga Regiment was one of the first units to be inducted into this area during the conflict. It moved from the Patan sector to Drass and thereafter to the Mushkoh valley.

Though the Washington Accord was signed on July 4, 1999 and the Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif agreed to withdraw his troops, the infiltrators continued holding on to positions on the Indian side of the LOC. Twin Bump in the Point 4875 complex was one such position. This was the enemy mortar position and 2 Naga was tasked to capture it.

“The schedule in the unit was very busy due to the ongoing war situation and to top it the weather conditions were just not forgiving. We moved into Mushkoh valley, which is located 15,000 ft above sea level, and were faced with heavy mortar bombardment on one side and inclement weather on the other,” continues the decorated soldier. In order to neutralize the bombardment from the enemy mortar post on the night of July 8, his company was tasked to assault and capture Twin Bump. The Subedar was just a Sepoy in 1999. He was part of the assault group that was tasked with stealthily neutralizing the enemy on the outer perimeter of the enemy mortar post.

According to a Naga Regiment publication that described the operation: “Sepoy Imliakum Ao approached the enemy sentry during broad daylight and killed him. Thereafter, he kept moving forward and killed one more sentry and subsequently stormed the mortar position along with the Assault Group….. The elimination of the enemy personnel by Sepoy Imliakum Ao was a big success wherein three 120 mm and two 81 mm mortars were captured along with a huge stockpile of ammunition. The valiant action by Sepoy Imliakum Ao, which was a true demonstration of valour, in the presence of a well entrenched enemy was the sole factor which paved the way for a successful raid on the enemy mortar position which led to the destruction of the enemy ammunition dump.”

“It was a very difficult mission and all those who participated in it were aware of the threat. Though Nagas are born warriors, a scout’s job is the key to a mission’s success,” said an officer of 2 Naga. The assault group’s task involved killing the Pakistani soldiers guarding the mortar positions and ammunition depots. “The enemy positions were heavily guarded and the mission was to be carried out in daylight. But Imliakum Ao volunteered for it,” he added.As a young sepoy he had shown exemplary courage and determination. His grit and raw courage in the face of the enemy were instrumental in him being awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest gallantry award of India, in Jan 2000. Promoted to the rank of Subedar on August 1, 2016, this highly decorated Junior Commissioned Officer continues to serve the nation with pride and dignity.