‘Param Vir Chakra would have been more appropriate’

Bikumalla Santoshi, Deputy Collector (Revenue) and wife of Galwan martyr Col. Santosh Babu, was honoured by officials and leaders at the 72nd Republic Day celebrations here on Tuesday.

District Collector Anita Ramachandran, Bhongir MP Komatireddy Venkat Reddy and Alair legislator G. Sunitha joined to felicitate Ms Santoshi, remembering her husband’s martyrdom in the 2020 Indo-China skirmishes in Galwan valley in June, and the government’s posthumous recognition of the sacrifice with Maha Vir Chakra, the second-highest wartime gallantry award.

In an emotional address, Ms. Santoshi said it was a proud moment for everyone — for the family, for Telangana State and the 16th Bihar Regiment. “I am sure his sacrifice and the recognition will motivate many people. My children are young; they will always feel proud of their father, and we will continue to carry on with this inspiration,” she concluded, thanking the government, as tears welled up in her eyes.

In Suryapet, parents of Col. Santosh Babu, retired bank officer Upender and home-maker Manjula, expressed a half-hearted welcome of the Maha Vir Chakra recognition. They opined that their son deserved Param Vir Chakra, the highest wartime gallantry award, for the sacrifice. Mr. Upender said “Param Vir Chakra would have been more appropriate”, adding, “Santosh Babu’s team endured the harshest climate for some 13 months. They caused double the loss to Chinese troops in an undeclared war, erased the erstwhile opinion that India was inferior to China, and also inspired the youth of the country like never before, in the recent past.”

Ms. Manjula recollected her reaction from June 15, when the family first learnt about the tragedy. “As a mother, I will always want my son to bag the first place. I am a little sad now that he was only recognised with Maha Vir Chakra for his supreme sacrifice,” she added.

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