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Four of 21 Param Vir Chakra recipients after whom Andaman islands named from Himachal Pradesh, one still serving in Army, find out their heroics 

The Newz Radar

Four of the 21 Param Vir Chakra recipients after whom the Union Government has named isles in the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands belong to Himachal Pradesh.

In a befitting tribute to the valour and sacrifice of the Army martyrs, the Union government has named the 21 uninhabited islands in the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar after recipients of Param Vir Chakra, the country’s highest wartime gallantry award. Sixteen of these islands are located in North and Middle Andaman district while five are in South Andaman.

Those from Himachal are Major Somnath Sharma, Captain Vikram Batra, Lieutenant Colonel Dhan Singh Thapa and Subedar Major Sanjay Kumar. The first uninhabited island numbered ‘INAN370′ in North and Middle Andaman is named after Major Somnath Sharma. ‘INAN370′ will now be known as ‘Somnath Dweep’.

Major Sharma was the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra. He died on November 3, 1947, while fighting Pakistani infiltrators near Srinagar airport. He was posthumously awarded the highest military award for his gallantry and sacrifice during the Battle of Badgam. He was born into a Dogra Brahmin family at Dadh in Kangra, then undivided Punjab (present day Himachal Pradesh). His father Amar Nath Sharma was also a military officer. His younger brother Vishwa Nath Sharma went on to be the 14th Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army.

Captain Vikram Batra was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his actions during the Kargil War. Hailing from Palampur, he was martyred on July 7, 1999. Capt Batra’s courage inspired his men to fight valiantly and eventually Point 5140 was captured, which was under Pakistani control. On June 20, 1999, he had sent the radio message, “Chanakya …it’s Shershah reporting!! We’ve captured the post! Yeh Dil Maange More,” which later on became the catch-line for the Kargil War.

Lieutenant Colonel Dhan Singh Thapa Magar, who was born in Shimla, was awarded for his heroics in the Sino-Indian War of 1962. He was taken hostage and released from captivity after the war ended. He died on September 6, 2005.

Major Sanjay Kumar, born at Kalol Bakain village in Bilaspur district, is a serving junior commissioned officer in the Army. He was awarded for his bravery in the Kargil War. On July 4, 1999, he was the leading scout of a team tasked to capturing Area Flat Top, an area that was held by Pakistani troops. Having scaled the cliff, the team was pinned down by machine gun fire from an enemy bunker, about 150 metres away.

Realising the magnitude of the problem and the detrimental effect this bunker would have in the capture of Area Flat Top, Major Kumar crawled alone up the ledge along a flank and charged towards the enemy bunker through a hail of automatic fire. Almost instantly he took two bullets in his chest and forearm that left him bleeding profusely.

Among other bravehearts after whom the islands have been named are Subedar and Honorary Captain Karam Singh, Major Rama Raghoba Rane, Naik Jadunath Singh, Company Havildar Major Piru Singh Shekhawat, Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, Subedar Joginder Singh Sahnan, Major Shaitan Singh Bhati, Company Quartermaster Havildar Abdul Hamid, Lieutenant Colonel Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore, Lance Naik Albert Ekka, Colonel Hoshiar Singh Dahiya, Second Lieutenant Arun Khetarpal, Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran, Captain Bana Singh and Captain Manoj Kumar Pandey.

The Andamans played a prominent part in the history of India’s freedom struggle. People who took part in various anti-British movements such as the 1857 revolt, the Wahabi Movement, and the Burmese Rebellion were deported to the Andamans where they lived there under barbaric conditions. Great stalwarts of the freedom struggle were confined in the solitary cells of the Cellular Jail.

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