New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday awarded India’s highest peacetime military decoration, the Ashok Chakra, posthumously to IAF Garud commando Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala, who laid down his life after gunning down two terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.
The award was received by Corporal Nirala’s wife Sushmanand and his mother Malti Devi at the majestic Rajpath. After presenting the award, Kovind was seen wiping his face.
Corporal Nirala was part of a Garud Special Forces Unit of the Indian Air Force, a detachment of which was attached to a Rashtriya Rifles battalion under the aegis of ‘Op Rakshak’ in Jammu and Kashmir.
On November 18 last year, an offensive was launched in Chanderger village of Bandipora district based on specific intelligence. The Garud detachment covertly approached the target house where the terrorists were hiding and laid a close quarter ambush.
During the encounter six terrorists, including the nephew on 26/11 attacks mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, were gunned down.
“Corporal Nirala, displaying exceptional battle craft, positioned himself close to the approach of the hideout, thus cutting off all possibilities of an escape by the terrorists.
“Laying the ambush at such close quarters demanded a very high degree of courage and professional acumen,” according to a statement by the Defence Ministry.
While the detachment laid in wait, six terrorists hiding in the house, rushed out, shooting and lobbing grenades at the Garuds.
“Corporal Nirala, disregarding personal safety and displaying indomitable courage, retaliated with effective lethal fire and gunned down two category ‘A’ terrorists and injured two others,” the statement said.
In the violent exchange of fire, Corporal Nirala was hit by a volley of small arms fire. Despite being critically injured, he continued the retaliatory fire. Nirala succumbed to fatal gunshot wounds. “Corporal Nirala exhibited most conspicuous gallantry in fighting with terrorists and made supreme sacrifice,” it added.