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Maj Varadarajan, Naik Singh awarded Ashok Chakra

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Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh (L) of 57 Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles (13 Rajputana Rifles), and Major Mukund Vardarajan of 44th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles who will be conferred the nation's highest peacetime gallantry award Ashoka Chakra. Photo: PTI.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Major Mukund Varadarajan and Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh, the two army personnel who laid down their lives combating militants in Kashmir Valley, were on Monday awarded posthumously the highest peacetime military honour, the Ashok Chakra, by President Pranab Mukherjee.

The families of Major Varadarajan and Naik Singh, who showed exemplary courage in tackling terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, were honoured by the President at the Republic Day parade.

The awards were received by their wives at the 66th Republic Day celebrations, which was graced by US President Barack Obama.

Both the army men laid down their lives while battling groups of militants in separate operations in Shopian and Kupwara districts of Kashmir respectively.

Major Varadarajan, who was an officer in the Rajput Regiment of the Indian Army, killed three terrorists in an encounter in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir in April last.

However, he was badly hurt in the operation and later succumbed to injuries.

While leading a search operation in general area Gurdaji of Kupwara district in J and K on August 24, 2014, Naik Neeraj Singh came under heavy fire from terrorists.

Singh refused to be evacuated till he fell unconscious and was later evacuated. However, he succumbed to injuries.

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