President Ram Nath Kovind awarded India’s highest peacetime military decoration Ashok Chakra (31) posthumously to Indian Air Force (IAF) Garud commando Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala. He had laid down his life after gunning down two terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. He is the third Ashok Chakra for the IAF and its first for ground combat. Other two IAF officers are Rakesh Sharma (first and still only Indian citizen to go to space) and Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon posthumously decorated with the Param Vir Chakra in 1972.
Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala
He had joined the IAF in 2005 and was ‘Corporal’ when he was martyred. He was part of small Garud commando batch attached to Indian Army’s specialized counter-insurgency force, Rashtriya Rifles under the aegis of ‘Op Rakshak’ in J&K, when he was martyred.
On November 18, 2017, the Rashtriya Rifles-Garud team, acting on intelligence inputs, surrounded house in Chandragarh village in Hajin in J&K, when they came under heavy fire from terrorists holed up inside. Nirala, armed with light machine gun (LMG) had displayed conspicuous bravery in confronting terrorists and killing two to three of them despite himself being hit by bullets. The gunfight resulted in the killing of six terrorists. Corporal Nirala had exhibited most conspicuous gallantry in fighting with terrorists and made supreme sacrifice.
It is India’s highest peacetime military decoration awarded for valor, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the battlefield It is the peace time equivalent of the Param Vir Chakra and is awarded for the most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent valour or self-sacrifice other than in the face of the enemy.