Service No : IC-53532F
Date of Birth : July 25, 1974
Place of birth : Mandi Dist (HP)
Service : Army
Last Rank : Major
Unit : 21 Kumaon
Arm/Regt : The Kumaon Regiment
Operation : CI & IS Ops
Martyrdom : August 28, 1999
Major Sameer Katwal hailed from Rawara village in Sandhole tehsil of Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh and was born on 25 July 1974. Son of Shri KPS Katwal, an officer of the Indian Forest Service, he had a sister Neera as his sibling. He completed his school education in Tiruchirapalli and Chennai in Tamil Nadu. He was inclined to serve in the Armed Forces since his younger days and following his passion, he cracked the examination for the National Defence Academy after his class XII. He joined the NDA Khadakwasla in the year 1991 and passed out in 1994. He later went to Indian Military Academy, Dehradun for further training and passed out as a 2nd Lieutenant on 10 June 1995 at the age of 21 years.
He was recruited into the 21 Kumaon Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment, one of the most decorated infantry regiments of the Indian Army, which traces back its history to the 18th century. By the year 1999, he had put in over four years of service and had been promoted to the rank of Major. By then, he had honed his field craft skills and developed into a fine officer with commendable soldierly skills.
Cachar Hills Operation (Assam): 28 Aug 1999
During August 1999, Maj Sameer Katwal’s unit 21 Kumaon was deployed in Assam and was engaged in counter-insurgency operations on a regular basis. At that time a number of militant groups were active in the north-east and the troops had to be on guard at all times to face any eventuality. In late Aug 1999, based on the information from intelligence sources, a decision was taken by the security forces to attack the camp of the newly formed Dima Halong Dowga (DHD) militant group in the North Cachar Hills district of Assam. Maj Sameer Katwal was tasked to lead that operation. On 27 August 1999, Maj Sameer Katwal set off along with 40 soldiers to the suspected area on foot. The suspected hideout was located in a remote and inaccessible area and had to be approached on foot, through a path passing through rugged mountainous terrain.
Maj Sameer Katwal chose the approach path that passed thorough challenging terrain to keep the element of surprise in the operation. Maj Sameer Katwal and his comrades were successful in this regard, as the militants, numbering about 15, did not notice the soldiers, even when they were within 50 meters of the hideout. All the soldiers, including Maj Sameer, were wearing bullet-proof vests and steel helmets to protect themselves in anticipation of an aggressive fight with the militants. After deploying his soldiers tactically, in a tight cordon, Maj Sameer launched an all out attack on the hideout. The attack took the militants by surprise and they started firing indiscriminately out of panic. Some of the militants started fleeing in random directions firing with their automatic weapons. Major Sameer was in the forefront leading the operation and passing instructions like a true leader. Displaying commendable courage and determination, Major Sameer succeeded in eliminating two militants single-handedly. In the meantime, a fleeing militant turned around and emptied his AK-47 rifle, taking an aim at Maj Sameer. Though he was wearing a bullet-proof vest, one bullet found its mark ripping through the right collarbone and neck of Maj Sameer. As a result, he got severally injured and soon succumbed to injuries. Maj Sameer Katwal was a committed soldier and a fine officer, who at the age of 25 years made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation.
Major Sameer Katwal is survived by his father Shri KPS Katwal, mother Smt Katwal and sister Smt Neera Katwal.