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LT COL J R CHITNIS: ASHOK CHAKRA

Lt Col Jagannath Raoji Chitnis was born on 20th August 1918 to Sri Raoji Gopal Chitnis. He hailed from Satara, Maharashtra. Lt Col Chitnis got commissioned into the Third Battalion of the Gorkha Rifles on 12 Apr 1942. In 1956, he had become commanding officer of 1/3 Gorkha Rifles and was serving on the northeastern border of the country. In 1956, Lt Col Jagannath Raoji Chitnis was posted in Nagaland as Commanding Officer of 1/3 Gorkha Rifles.  

Service Number IC-3472 
Place of Birth Satara, Maharshtra 
Rank Lieutenant Colonel 
Unit 1/3 GR 
Regiment 3 Gorkha Rifles 
Award Ashok Chakra 
Date of Martyrdom 14th June 1956 

On 14th June 1956, Lt Col Chitnis accompanied by Subedar Major Nain Singh was heading towards Zunhebeto from Mokokchung with a treasure chest containing the pay of the battalion. There was a convoy of eight jeeps with a platoon as an escort. On nearing the 21st km milestone, around 100 Naga rebels belonging to Gen Kaito Sema’s Federal Army opened fire on the middle jeep of the convoy. These rebels were heavily armed with LMGs (Light Machine Guns) and rifles. Lt Col Chitnis quickly assessed the situation and stopped the other five jeeps. He along with four of his soldiers had already sustained injuries in the ensuing gunfire. Leading from the front and backed by his platoon, he began moving towards the militants’ position amidst ongoing gunfire. About 150 yards short of the rebels’ bunkers, Lt Col Chitnis ordered a counter-attack despite being wounded in the leg. He forged ahead undeterred and attacked the rebels with a bayonet, killing one and injuring another. Thereafter when an LMG opened fire on his party from a flank, he again led a bayonet charge against the LMG post and got critically injured in the stomach. As a consequence of his grave injuries, he fell 15 yards from the rebel bunker but that didn’t diminish his zeal as he continued to motivate and guide his platoon to destroy the rebel position. Lt Col Chitnis was martyred, but his troops motivated by the inspirational leadership of their commanding officer finally managed to destroy the rebel camp and killed 20 rebels.   

Lt Col Jagannath Raoji Chitnis, on account of his extraordinary courage, exemplary leadership, and unparalleled devotion to duty was awarded India’s highest gallantry peacetime award, ‘Ashok Chakra’. 

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