New Delhi: A Sub-Inspector of the Andhra Pradesh's counter-Maoist force was posthumously awarded Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award of the country, as India celebrated its 65th Republic Day on Sunday.
Sub-Inspector K. Prasad Babu was honoured for an anti-Naxal operation during which he had led an assault unit of Greyhounds (anti-Naxal force of Andhra Pradesh) near Andhra-Chhattisgarh border on April 16 last year.
The award was received by Babu's father from President Pranab Mukherjee before the commencement of the Republic Day Parade.
"Shri Prasad Babu exhibited most conspicuous gallantry, exceptional devotion to duty and exemplary leadership in fighting the Maoists and made the supreme sacrifice," a government statement said.
Babu played a key role in killing nine Maoists and injuring several others.
On April 16 last year, about 70 Maoists carried out IED blasts near Andhra-Chhattisgarh border and fired indiscriminately on the Greyhounds unit led by Babu. Babu and his unit charged towards the Maoists, killing nine of them.
The next day, the commandos were being evacuated by helicopters. When, 19 commandos were to be picked up for the last sortie of evacuation, about 60-70 Maoists attacked the helicopter. While 14 commandos boarded the helicopter, 4 commandos along with Babu began retaliatory firing, according to the statement.
After the helicopter left, the Maoists began encircling the commandos. Babu then urged the 4 other commandos to retreat to a direction while holding the nearly 200 Maoists single-handedly until the others reached a safe spot. He died in the process, it said.
Accepting the award, Babu's emotionally overwhelmed father acknowledged the crowd with folded hands. After stepping down the dais, he greeted distinguished military officers present in the seating area.