The government of India has decided to honour Col Bikkumalla Santosh Babu of the 16th Bihar Batallion, who had laid down his life in the clash between Indian and Chinese forces in Galwan Valley on June 16, with the Maha Vir Chakra this Republic Day. “Col Babu is likely to be awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously on this Republic Day,” government sources told ANI.
According to reports, the government’s decision came after the Indian Army top brass recommended that soldiers who took on Chinese troops in the Galwan valley clash should be awarded the war-time chakra series awards at this Republic Day.
Colonel Santosh Babu, the Commanding Officer of 16 Bihar who was killed in action along with 19 others in the Galwan clash last year, to be decorated with a posthumous Maha Vir Chakra on #RepublicDay. (That’s a war-time decoration). pic.twitter.com/dd8rxsJAyl— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) January 25, 2021
Maha Vir Chakra is the second-highest Indian military award, instituted to honour the acts of conspicuous gallantry in the presence of the enemy whether on land, at sea or in the air. Param Vir Chakra is the highest military decoration, followed by Maha Vir Chakra and then the Vir Chakra.
When Indian and Chinese troops had clashed in the Galwan Valley area in the Ladakh region near the Line of Actual Control, Indian security forces, including 16 Bihar Regiment, were asked to ensure that the Chinese post was removed by them. Commander Officer of the 16 Bihar Infantry Battalion controlling the area Colonel B Santosh Babu had visited the site with a team of 35 men.
During a heated exchange of words between the two troops, the Chinese started attacking Indians. It was during this bout of stone pelting that one of the stones hit that took lives of Colonel Babu and Havildar Pilani of 16 Bihar Regiment. ANI report suggests that after the CO was martyred, the Indian side lost their cool and attacked the Chinese ferociously despite being heavily outnumbered.