During Operation Blue Star, 26 MADRAS was tasked to evict extremists from the ‘Golden Temple’ complex. Lt Ram Prakash Roperia, who was officiating as Officer Commanding C Company was tasked to secure first floor of Southern Wing of Parikrama.
There were a few staircases leading to the first floor, but they were strongly held. The first floor itself was without any protection which meant that the operation on the floor including climbing on it were to be conducted in the open, under the cross fire of the Medium Machine Gun of terrorists. During the actual operation to secure the first floor, Lt Ram Prakash Roperia decided to climb the floor with the help of ladders, as the staircases heavily guarded by fire. The progress of operation was hampered as Lt Roperia’s team was effectively interfered by the fire of Medium Machine Guns.
The attempts to climb on first floor failed and further move appeared difficult. Lt Ram Prakash Roperia asked volunteers who would accompany him. He along with Nb Sub George Koshy led the assault and in the fourth attempt successfully climbed the first floor. The personal example of courage and leadership of the officer enabled the company to reach its intended objective. Lt Ram Prakash Roperia then alongwith Nb Sub George Koshy started clearing the bunkers under the cross fire of extremists machine guns. The operation was further made difficult as it was done without any covering fire. Nb Sub George Koshy was seriously injured while clearing the third bunker, Lt Ram Prakash Roperia then himself led further assault on the bunkers and cleared the complete first floor of the building.
After clearing first floor, Lt Ram Prakash Roperia decided to mop up and link up with D Company that was on ground floor. He therefore, led the operation to clear a staircase. The moment, the staircase door was opened an extremist opened fire, Lt Ram Prakash Roperia lobbed two hand grenades in the staircase and entered firing his sten gun knowing fully well that the extremist was armed. The extremist though injured fired at Lt Ram Prakash Roperia injuring him in shoulder and neck. Badly wounded, Lt Ram Prakash Roperia continued firing and killed the extremist. He then continued coming down the staircase and linked up with D Company. After reaching the ground floor, he collapsed bleeding profusely. He was evacuated to Military Hospital, Amritsar where he succumbed to his injuries. This young officer successfully led his company in a complex tactical operation. He displayed exceptionally high deftness in tactical handling, physical courage and utter disregard to his personal safety to set a personal example in operations against extremists. His courage and leadership qualities inspired his men to do the most difficult task.
For this act of gallantry of the highest order and devotion to the duty, Lt Ram Prakash Roperia was awarded Ashoka Chakra posthumously by Shri Gyani Zail Singh, President of India on 26 January 1985.
The Maha Vir Chakra was awarded to NK KM Raju for his gallantry in Tithwal Sector in J & K Ops 1948. On 11 June 1948, at about 0545h, the enemy approximately 300 strong attacked own piquet, Ring Contour. Nk Raju, though wounded along with his section men who were in these bunkers, kept on firing at the enemy. When he saw that his Bren gunner was hit, he took over the Bren successfully delayed the enemy’s assault. Seeing the enemy crawling up to his post with fixed bayonets, covered by heavy automatic fire, Nk Raju collected as many hand grenades as he could, and hurled them at the enemy. It was then that he was wounded badly for the second time, this time in his right eye. Even then he refused to leave his post. Hav Gopala Kurup forcibly removed him to a place of safety. The attack was eventually repulsed after a pitched battle of six hours. In this successful action, Nk Raju showed courage and set an example of leadership and devotion to duty in the very finest traditions of the service. He had seen action already in Java, Malaya and had accounted for a few Japs in Burma. Nk Raju was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra. He was the first person of the Madras Regiment to be awarded the MVC.
During 1965 operations, Lt Col Harbans Lal Mehta was commanding his battalion in an attack in Sialkot Sector. The enemy defenses were sited in cane-fields and visibility was poor. He found that one of his reserve company was held up by unforeseen opposition from a flank. Disregarding his personal safety, Lt Col Mehta then went forward and personally led the assault. Inspired by his presence in the forefront of the assault, his men pressed on the attack, which resulted in the collapse of the enemy’s stronghold. In this action, Lt Col Mehta was fatally wounded. His example of personal courage, leadership and sacrifice were in the highest traditions of the Indian Army. Lt Col Harbans Lal Mehta was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra. He was the first officer of the Madras Regiment to be awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.
Hav Thomas Philipose was the Platoon Havildar in 16 MADRAS (Travancore). During the Battle of Basantar at night on 15/16 Dec 1971, his platoon Commander received a bullet wound and could not proceed further. Hav Philipose then took over the command of the Platoon. Casualties in the Platoon were so heavy that, by the time the objective was captured, the Company strength had been considerably reduced. At this time, they were counter attacked by the enemy. Notwithstanding the depleted strength of his platoon, Hav Philipose displayed conspicuous bravery, courage and leadership of the highest order. He led a brave counter charge with fixed bayonets with his meager strength. He enthused and inspired this small force. Although he received a severe bullet wound himself, the charge led by him was so determined and brave that the enemy fled. Throughout, Hav Philipose displayed resolute leadership under adverse conditions and set a brilliant example of courage and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the Indian Army and was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.
During 1971 operations, Lt Col VP Ghai was commanding 16 MADRAS (Travancore). The Battalion had occupied a bridge head during Battle of Basantar in the Shakargarh Sector. The enemy launched number of fierce counter attacks to dislodge own troops. Lt Col Ghai moved to the company localities with utter disregard for his personal safety. He moved fearlessly from one position to another, directing, encouraging and enthusing his men. Inspired by his personal example of bravery and leadership, the Battalion repulsed the counter attack with heavy losses to the enemy. He was seriously wounded by an enemy shell, but he continued to direct the battle, neither caring for his personal safety nor for medical attention. He died of his wounds on the battlefield, thus making the supreme sacrifice of his life. For displaying outstanding gallantry, fearless courage and great devotion to duty, with utter disregard for his personal safety in the face of the enemy, Lt Col Ved Prakash Ghai was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra.
Capt Shankar Rao Shankapan Walker was the Mortar Officer of a MADRAS Battalion on the Western Front. On 16 Dec 1971, when the battalion reached Hingore Tar (Pakistan), after advancing for 42 miles, it came under a very heavy shelling from enemy positions. With utter disregard for his personal safety, Capt Walker visited each Rifle Company position to tie up the defensive fire tasks. While doing so, he twice sustained injuries from shell-splinters, but refused to be evacuated and carried on with his task, in a spirit of outstanding courage and devotion to duty. Heavy enemy shelling continued during the night and early next morning the enemy assaulted two company locations. Despite being wounded, Capt Walker continued to direct accurate mortar fire on the enemy and inflicted heavy casualties. The mortar ammunition had almost finished, and the enemy attacked the exposed mortar position. Capt Walker inspired his men to hold fast and all by himself shot down four of the enemy forcing enemy to pull back. He was, however, fatally wounded in this action, and after firing off the last round, he succumbed to his injuries.
For his conspicuous gallantry, inspiring leadership and exemplary devotion to duty, and for having fought bravely and laid down his life heroically in the best traditions of the Services, Capt Shankar Rao Shankapan Walker was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.