CRPF commando awarded 'Shaurya Chakra'

New Delhi: A CRPF commando is the lone policeman to be decorated with the 'Shaurya Chakra' posthumously this Independence Day for single-handedly pinning down a squad of Maoists which resulted in the killing of top naxal leader Sidhu Soren in West Bengal last year.

Ashish Kumar Tiwari, a commando of the elite 202 Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), suffered multiple bullet injuries during the assault but did not let the holed-up Maoists flee and kept firing from his INSAS rifle till he breathed his last.

The operation on July 26 last year in the forests of Kamya village of West Midnapore district was hailed as one of the major successes for security forces conducting anti-naxal operations in the area.

Tiwari was part of the team that eliminated top Maoist leader Sidhu Soren, also the secretary of the People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA), and five other top rung operatives of Naxal cadres.

"The encounter was a watershed in the history of anti-naxal operations in Midnapore as the naxal menace started dwindling thereafter and they (naxals) were on the run with security forces having an upper hand (after that)," chief of CRPF operations and Additional Director General P M Nair told PTI.

The operation was undertaken on specific information, a hallmark of the CoBRA which is mandated to undertake special operations.

"On seeing the troops, naxalites opened indiscriminate fire and exploded multiple IEDs. Troops retaliated and encounter lasted for two hours. In this encounter constable Ashish Kumar Tiwari showed exceptional gallant action and had bullet injuries. Later he succumbed to injuries," Tiwari's citation read.

"On subsequent search, bodies of six naxalites including top Maoist leader Sidhu Soren, who was Secretary of PCPA were recovered. Moreover, a huge cache of arms and ammunition was also recovered," the citation said.

The CRPF has deployed close to 60000 troops for anti-naxal operations in the country and had raised and deployed the CoBRA units since last year after it became the lead force for such operations in the country.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has been awarded a total of 26 Police Medals for gallantry (three posthumously), making it the top force to have earned the maximum number of laurels for courage this time.