The 3 heroic exploits of Naib Subedar Chuni Lal

India has always been the land of the brave. There are innumerable stories about bravery of Indian soldiers in the face of certain death. However, few Indian soldiers have had as many laurels as Naib Subedar Chuni Lal. This brave soldier was awarded three major bravery medals in three different decades. He showed rare courage and commitment to duty and made supreme sacrifice for the country.

Chuni Lal
Naib Subedar Chuni Lal

Introduction

NS Chuni Lal was born in Bhaderwah, Jammu and Kashmir in 1968. He joined Indian Army at the age of 16, in 1984. He was a part of 8th Battalion of J and K Light Infantry Regiment. He was one of the most decorated soldiers of Indian Army and was awarded a Sena Medal, a Vir Chakra as well as an Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award.

Operation Rajiv 1987

Bana Post Siachin
Note the position of Bana Post

Situated on the Siachin Glacier, the Quaid post, named after Quaid e Azam Jinnah was established by Pakistan in 1987. India had complete control of Siachen since Operation Meghdoot of 1984, when we bet Pakistan by a few days in reaching Siachen.

But Quaid post was a grave threat to Indian posts. It was at a height of more than 21000 ft. and overlooked many Indian posts. Indeed, it was already using snipers to hit Indians at Sonam post.

2nd Lt. Rajiv Pande led an unsuccessful attempt to capture it and attained Veergati with 9 of his comrades. In his honour, Operation Rajiv was launched to capture Quaid Post.

The saga is full of bravery, grit and doggedness. Under overall command of Major Varinder Singh, many attempts were launched but failed.

It was difficult to operate in the oxygen scarce region. Often temperatures reached -25 degrees. Many a times, Indian arms did not work in the cold conditions. The visibility was reduced due to snow blizzards. So much so that it took hours to travel just 1 kilometer.

The post itself was a fortress of ice. It had near 90 degree ascent from three sides and a clear view of surrounding area. It was supplied by Pak helicopters.

The final attempt to capture the post was 26th June 1987. Two teams one under Major Varinder and second under Naib Subedar Bana Singh were prepared.

Chuni Lal, then a 21 year old kid was with Bana Singh. The other three members of team were Laxman Das, Om Raj and Kashmir Chand. They took an unusual and difficult route to reach the post with much difficulty. They had to stop every few metres to catch their breath.

Finally, when they reached the post from behind, they realized their weapons did not work. After Bana Singh lobbed a grenade in the bunker, close quarters combat with Pakistanis followed. Bayonets were used. All Pakistanis died, some in combat, others fell off the cliff.

From Indian side, Om Raj lost his hand and attained Veergati soon after. Bana Singh was awarded Param Veer Chakra. Om Raj was awarded Vir Chakra and Chuni Lal, Sena Medal for gallantry. Quaid post was renamed as Bana post.

The career of the braveheart was just beginning. He had participated in one of the highest land battles ever fought and had distinguished himself.

Operation Rakshak 1999

Over the 1990s, Chuni Lal served during Kargil War. Operation Rakshak, started in 1990, is a counter-insurgency operation of Indian Army.

Poonch in Blue, shaded region is PoK, PoL and CoL. The triangular region with lines is Siachen

In 2000, there was an intrusion by the Pakistani Army in the Poonch Sector. If you see the map above, you will see the bulge between Poonch district{in blue} and Baramula{immediately north}. Most of the terrorists enter from this heavily forested area which also has the Haji Pir Pass. This pass was captured by India in 1965, but returned in Tashkent.

Chuni Lal defended a forward post in this sector with rare courage and pushed back the enemy. He was awarded Vir chakra for this.

The following is from his citation :-

“On 24 August 2000, he successfully thwarted enemy’s attack to capture own forward post. On the night 23rd/24th August 2000, the enemy started shelling and firing heavily at own post. Despite heavy shelling, Havildar Chuni Lal displayed undaunted bravery by moving from bunker-to bunker in his section and motivating his troops who brought down effective medium machine gun fire on the enemy’s attacking column. Subsequently, he inspired his men by personal example to fight a close quarter battle in open trenches.

Observing that two enemy soldiers have jumped inside own communication trench, he picked up a light machine gun and rushed at them disregarding own safety and shot them dead. Taken by surprise at the ferocity of the pro-active stance of own troops, the enemy quickly retreated leaving behind several weapons at our post. Twelve enemy soldiers were killed in the action. Havildar Chuni Lal displayed conspicuous courage and relentless offensive action in the face of the enemy”

Operation against terrorists in 2007

On 24 June 2007, Lal was in charge of a post in Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir. The post, at height of 14,000 feet had low visibility and sub zero temperatures. Around 3:30am, he detected some movement across the fence on the Line of Control and decided to check it. An encounter started. Nb Sub Chuni Lal and his soldiers surrounded the whole area and while searching, came under fire. Two attackers were killed and two army soldiers were seriously wounded. With disregard to his personal safety, Chuni Lal crawled towards the wounded men and pulled them to safety thus saving their lives.

Anticipating more hidden attackers, he continued to search the area. He saw a third attacker trying to escape and charged at him with his weapon and killed him. Unfortunately, Chunni Lal was shot in abdomen and began to lose lot of blood. He took cover behind a rock, continued to fire and did not allow the other attackers to break the cordon. Under his leadership the two remaining attackers were also killed. He too attained Veergati.

Chuni Lal had lost a large volume of blood and died by the time a helicopter could airlift him to nearest Army Hospital. For his actions in battle, Nb Sub Chuni Lal was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, on 15 August 2007.

Conclusion

Naib Subedar Chuni Lal is and will always be an inspiration to the people of this country. He also showed his bravery during UN missions in Somalia and Congo and was awarded citations by the UN.

Till the time this holy land of Bharata continues to produce sons like Chuni Lal, no external force can even dream of conquering us.

If you like this article, please support me by sharing this article as much as possible. You can share this on facebook, twitter, whatsapp etc.

  • To read my other articles, click here.
  • To get updates of my new posts on Telegram channel, click here
  • I have started translation of some posts in Hindi. You can read the same here.
Pawan
Follow me:-

Leave a Reply