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Friday, Aug 16, 2019

Kirti Chakra for CRPF officer, his 5th gallantry medal in 15 years

One of India’s bravest police officers, Harshpal Singh, a Deputy Commandant in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), has been named for the country’s second-highest peacetime gallantry - the Kirti Chakara.

india Updated: Aug 15, 2019 13:04 IST
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
CRPF Deputy Commandant Harshpal Singh had been awarded four gallantry medals before the 73rd Independence Day for his exploits against Maoists.
CRPF Deputy Commandant Harshpal Singh had been awarded four gallantry medals before the 73rd Independence Day for his exploits against Maoists.(HT PHOTO)
         

Thirty-eight year-old Harshpal Singh, a Deputy Commandant in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has trouble remembering the dates of his awards. Perhaps it is understandable given the fact that he has won five gallantry awards since 2004 when he joined the CRPF.

On the 73rd Independence Day, Harshpal will be awarded the second-highest peacetime gallantry medal - the Kirti Chakara. Harshpal and his team eliminated three terrorists last September in Jhajjar – Kotli in Jammu. The encounter left him with a bullet and splinter injuries.

“We were searching for them for over 24 hours. The day before the terrorist had managed to escape,” Harshpall said recalling the incident. “It was a close quarter battle. My team and I were just 15 meters away from where the terrorists were hiding”. The three Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) fidayeen killed that day were trying to attack the headquarters of the India Army’s Northern Command of the Indian Army, investigations revealed.

Harshpal Singh has also awarded three police medals for gallantry and a Jharkhand Chief Minister’s Police medal for gallantry. “It is extremely rare. We are extremely proud. This is a very well-deserved honour,” Director General CRPF RR Bhatnagar said.

Deputy Commandant Harshpal now posted in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh received his first police medal for gallantry on 31 May 2008. “It was in Chundarmandu in Kunti District of Jharkhand. We had intelligence about a meeting of senior Maoist leaders in Kunti,” he said.

Moving a large number of troops risked alerting the Maoist. So Harshapal and a small group of men sneaked into the forest and stormed the meeting. “We were badly out-numbered.” When the gun battle ended a few hours later five senior Maoist leaders lay dead and the rest of the cadre had scattered.

Six years later on 7 July 2014, Harshpal, then an Additional Superintended of Police (Operations) would come to know that a senior Maoist commander trying to recruit people from a village called Lemba in Khunti. “The village was spread over large hill tract. Under cover of darkness we moved through the nearby forest but as we entered the village, we came under fire. We exactly knew where the senior commander would be resting. It was crucial to avoid collateral damage. The commander who had a price of Rs 2 lakh on his head was killed in the gun battle,” the CRPF officer said.

A year later Harshpal would strike again. On 18 August 2015, he would lead another small team to eliminate the zonal Maoist commander of Khunti area and arrest his deputy. The same year he would receive the Jharkhand CM’s Police Medal for gallantry for sustained counter-insurgency work.

“The Maoist are degraded but determined. They plan every move. In contrast, terrorist in J&K have more firepower and are more motivated,” he said when asked to compare the two theatres.

First Published: Aug 14, 2019 22:28 IST

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