CRPF commander Hira Kumar Jha is the sole paramilitary recipient of the military gallantry medal 'Shaurya Chakra', which was awarded to him posthumousely on India's 69th Independence day, which coincided with what would have been the late officer's 46th birthday.
Jha, an officer of the country's largest paramilitary force, led a lethal anti-Naxal operation on July 3 last year in Jamui district of Bihar which led to the apprehension of the wife of a hardcore Maoist leader Sidhu Koda and subsequent arrest of two other red ultras.
Born on August 15, 1969, Jha rose through the ranks in the force within a short span of time by the sheer virtue of his daredevil exploits and was the Second-in-Command of the 7th battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is deployed in the Left Wing Extremism-hit areas of the state.
While laying siege upon a Maoist hideout in the Lakhari village of the said district, the slain officer laid out his strike team in an strategic fashion and began the assault but later was hit by enemy fire and the bullet pierced through his right eye and exited from the back.
Jha collapsed on the spot but not before giving a tactical advantage to his team-mates and draining out the bullets and ammunition of the Naxals.
Jha's then commanding officer, Inspector General (IG) RK Mishra said he was one of the "bravest men" in his team."He was extremely brave and hard working. I very clearly remember that the officer climbed a hill under heavy rains in the dead of the night to plan an early morning ambush. We lost a very promising officer in this operation," Mishra, now IG (Operations) for CRPF in Jharkhand, told PTI.
A colleague recounted how Jha volunteered to be posted in the anti-Naxal operations grid after he had various stints in Jammu and Kashmir and insurgency-hit areas of North East.
Jha joined CRPF in 1999 in the entry-level officer rank of Assistant Commandant. The officer hailed from Ranchi and is survived by two young children and wife.
The 'Shaurya Chakra' is the third highest peacetime gallantry medal awarded by the government of India.
Apart from Jha, two policemen from Jammu and Kashmir police have also received the award this time.