Believing that gallantry runs in the genes, the Army has, in a rare gesture, adopted the 16-year-old son of the much-decorated Naib Subedar Chunni Lal, who was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously on Republic Day.
The Army is shifting Manvir Singh out of a village school near Doda to an army school in Jammu and plan to groom him to be an officer.
Manvir’s gutsy father made the supreme sacrifice in Kupwara last June after killing three terrorists in a fierce firefight. He had earlier been decorated with the Sena Medal and the Vir Chakra for outstanding valour.
Colonel R.P. Singh, the commanding officer of Chunni Lal’s battalion 8 JAKLI, told the Hindustan Times: “Every soldier in the battalion wants to see him as an officer. His father commanded tremendous respect. My dream is to see Manvir as the CO of his father’s unit one day.”
And Manvir’s dreams are no different.He knows he couldn’t pay his father a better tribute than becoming an officer in the army. Chunni Lal’s act would be difficult to follow, but Manvir is eager to script new tales of valour.
“My effort would be to surpass my father’s achievements. That would make him proud, wherever he is,” said Manvir.
A young Chunni Lal proved his mettle shortly after joining the JAKLI in 1984. He volunteered and played an important role in capturing the now famous BANA Post at 21,153 feet on the Siachen Glacier. His valour earned him the Sena Medal.
During Op Rakshak in 1999, Chunni Lal repelled an attempted intrusion by the Pakistani Army. That got him the Vir Chakra.
Chunni Lal’s widow Chinta Devi received his Ashok Chakra award on Saturday from President Pratibha Patil. The award is the peacetime equivalent of the Param Vir Chakra given for most conspicuous bravery or self-sacrifice other than in the face of the enemy.
Colonel V. Vasant of 9 Maratha Light Infantry, Captain Harshan R. of 2 Para (Special Forces) and Major Dinesh Raghuraman of 34 Rashtriya Rifles were also awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously.