Colonel B Santosh Babu, who was killed during a violent confrontation with Chinese soldiers in Ladakh's Galwan Valley in 2020, was on November 23, posthumously awarded Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) for showcasing extraordinary leadership and courage, by President Ram Nath Kovind during a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi.
Babu's widow, B Santoshi, and mother, B Manjula, received the award. Colonel Babu was the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar regiment which was deployed in Galwan Valley for Operation Snow Leopard. India and China had been involved in a military standoff from early May last year, and the two sides had been discussing disengagement.
It was during this period that troops from both sides got involved in a hand-to-hand confrontation in the Galwan Valley on June 15, which resulted in the death of 20 Indian soldiers, which also included Babu, and at least four other Chinese troops.
Babu's citation mentioned that as the CO of his unit, he was responsible for establishing an observation post in the face of the enemy, which he successfully did, reported The Indian Express. 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. 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, it said.
Even though he was "grievously injured", Babu still "led from the front with absolute command and control despite hostile conditions to deter the vicious enemy attack at his position".
The President also awarded Vir Chakra (VrC) to five other Galwan braves who fought off Chinese troops on June 15, 2020. Meanwhile, four of the individuals were presented with the VrC posthumously. The MVC is the second-highest wartime gallantry award in India,followed by the VrC.
Furthermore, the four posthumous VrC awardees at the ceremony are Havildar K Palani (81 Field), Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren (16 Bihar), Sepoy Gurtej Singh (3 Punjab) and Naik Deepak Singh (16 Bihar). Meanwhile, Havildar Tejinder Singh (3 Medium) was the only living recipient of the wartime honour.