The announcement of Maha Vir Chakra, India’s second-highest military award, being awarded to late Colonel Bikumalla Santosh Babu as part of Republic Day honours, has come as a major disappointment to his family.
“We are thoroughly disappointed. I was expecting my son would be conferred the Param Vir Chakra, the highest military award of the country, for the kind of sacrifice he made for the nation,” Santosh Babu’s father Bikumalla Upender, a retired employee of State Bank of India, said.
He reminded that Santosh Babu’s sacrifice was not an ordinary one. “He was leading the 16th Bihar battalion under peculiar climatic conditions. In fact, climate was his first enemy at Galwan valley. Yet, he had been stationed there for 13 months, keeping himself physically fit while combating the enemy forces,” he said.
Santosh Babu fought the enemy with bare hands, without using any weapons and inflicted heavy casualties and injuries to the enemy. “My son displayed tremendous courage to encounter the Chinese forces, which were in larger numbers. It was because of his bravery that Chinese forces had to beat a retreat,” he said.
He claimed that the cunningness of China got exposed internationally only after Colonel Babu’s death. “Defence minister Rajnath Singh said Chinese forces could not occupy even an inch in Galwan valley, thanks to the valiant fight by the Indian armed forces. Who should be credited with it? Was it not my son?” Upender asked and regretted that the Centre chose to honour Santosh Babu only with Maha Vir Chakra, instead of Param Vir Chakra.
The late Colonel’s mother Manjula said she was not at all happy to receive the news that her son was conferred Maha Vir Chakra. “I expected the top medal, not this,” she said.
She reminded that her son had inspired millions of youth across the country with his brave fight with the enemy on the Indo-China border and stood as a role model for them. “His sacrifice triggered patriotism in every Indian. He deserved the highest military honours,” Manjula said.
Asked whether he would write any letter to the Central government in protest, Upender replied in the negative. “No, we don’t want to make it a controversy. We just wanted to express our opinions on the announcement of the award,” he said.
Santosh Babu’s wife Santoshi, who was appointed as trainee deputy collector in Yadadri Bhongir district and is presently staying in Hyderabad, could not be reached for a comment.
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