Somnath Sharma: India's first Param Vir Chakra


Major Somnath Sharma was awarded the first Param Vir Chakra, the highest Indian gallantry award (the Indian equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

Somnath knew that if Pakistan advanced any further, the Srinagar airport would be lost and Kashmir would become a province of Pakistan; the airfield was the only lifeline between the Valley and the rest of India.

His last wireless message to the headquarters stated: 'The enemy are only 50 yards from us. We are heavily outnumbered. We are under devastating fire. I shall not withdraw an inch but will fight to the last man and the last round.'

Soon after, Somnath Sharma was killed by a mortar.

Three days later, Sharma's body was recovered. Though mutilated beyond recognition, a few pages of the Gita that he always kept in his breast pocket and the empty leather holster of Tewari's pistol helped to identify the body.

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