Service No : IC-47623
Date of Birth : May 24, 1968
Place of birth : Kangra Dist (HP)
Service : Army
Last Rank : Major
Unit : 9 Para(SF)
Arm/Regt : The Parachute Regiment
Operation : CI & IS Ops
Awards : AC, SM*
Martyrdom : August 29, 1999
Maj Sudhir Kumar Walia's family hailed from Banuri village in Palampur town of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh, but he was born in Jodhpur in Rajasthan on 24 May 1968. Son of an Army veteran Subedar Major Rulia Ram Walia and Smt Rajeshwari Dev, he had a brother Arun (born on 02 Oct 1972) and a sister Bindiya (born on 22 Feb 1976) as his siblings. He did his initial schooling at Government school Banuri and later joined Sainik School Sujanpur Tira in Himachal Pradesh. The school was located about 45 kms from Banuri and was inaugurated on 02 Nov 1978. While studying in the Sainik School his inclination towards the Armed Forces grew and the foundation of his future military life was laid. His resolve to join the Army grew with the age and consequently, he got selected for the prestigious NDA after finishing school. Consequently, he cleared NDA in his first attempt and joined the prestigious academy in the year 1984.
He excelled in various aspects of training at NDA and passed out on 30 May 1987 as part of 72nd Course. Later he went to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun and became part of Cariappa Battalion Sangro company. He passed out of IMA as a Second Lieutenant on 11 June at the age of 20 years. He was commissioned into 4 Jat battalion of the famed Jat Regiment, an infantry Regiment, widely known for its dauntless soldiers and many battle honours. Soon after commissioning, he was posted to his unit 4 Jat in Dehradun. However after few months of joining, his unit received orders to move to Sri Lanka as part of IPKF. Thus he became part of 70,000 soldiers who were sent to Sri Lanka on a peace mission under Indo-Sri Lanka accord. In Sri Lanka, the young 2nd Lt Walia took part in various operations and gained experience in active field operations. He also got an opportunity to operate with the 9 Para(SF) soldiers in Sri Lanka and got motivated to join the special forces. After he returned from Sri Lanka, he got selected to join the 9 Para(SF) in the year 1990. 9 Para(SF) unit was raised in 1966 as 9th Parachute Commando Battalion (now known as 9 Para(SF)) and specialized in Mountain Warfare and Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism operations.
Thereafter, he attended myriad training courses to gain expertise in various field craft skills. The important training courses that he underwent included Commando Training course at Belgaum, Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare course at CIJW School at Vairengte Mizoram, Officers' Transport Management(OTMC) at Bangalore, Para Training course at PTS(Para Training School) and Mountain Warfare Course at High Altitude Mountain Warfare School at Gulmarg in J&K. Major Sudhir Walia and his unit, 9 Para(Special Forces), known mainly for their daredevil covert operations undertook numerous operations in J &K. In Kashmir, the Special Forces operators of Indian Army often roamed in militant disguise, hunting for terrorists by locating their hideouts. This strategy facilitated the execution of many militants, their leader and even eliminated several outfits. In July 1993, in an operation in Kandi village, located in Budhal tehsil of Rajouri district, Major Walia eliminated three hard core terrorists. He was awarded, "Sena Medal" (gallantry) on 26 Jan 1994 for his commendable courage, leadership and devotion to duty during this operation. In Sep 1993, Major Sudhir Walia was decorated with a 'Bar' to "Sean Medal" for being part of an expedition to scale the peak Brammah II in the Brammah mountains in Kishtwar region of J&K. It was an armed, fighting expedition, where the purpose was training in extremely challenging conditions.
In 1997, Major Sudhir was sent to the United States for a specialized course and also got the rare honour of speaking at the Pentagon during this mission. Known as ‘Rambo” in the Indian Army he was called ‘Colonel’ by his peers in the course, who had come from 80 other countries. Major Sudhir was posted twice in the Siachen area and also served as an 'Aide-De-Camp' to the former Army Chief, General Ved Prakash Malik. While he was excelling in his career “Kargil War” commenced and Major Sudhir Walia wrote an application to General Malik, the Chief of Army Staff at that time, requesting him for a posting to Kargil to be with his unit in the time of need. General Malik acceded to his request and sent his most fearless and valiant soldier to the battle area of Kargil. Within ten days of his departure from Delhi, he led his team to capture Zulu Top at 5200 metres, in the Mushkoh Valley sector.
Kupwara Operation: 29 Aug 1999
After the end of the Kargil war on 26 July 1999, the Army was continuing its high alert status to deal with any eventuality. Major Sudhir Walia and his team of daredevil commandos disguised as militants, were carrying out the task of searching for the hiding militants, who could pose a serious threat to the security forces. On 29th Aug 1999, Major Sudhir Kumar Walia with a squad of five commandos was on a “Search and Destroy” mission in the dense jungle of “Haphruda Forest” in the Kupwara district of J&K. The squad suddenly chanced upon a well-camouflaged hideout having twenty odd terrorists.
Major Sudhir quickly organized his team and attacked the hideout. Leading from the front and showing rare courage Major Sudhir killed 4 militants single-handedly. However, during the process, he received gunshots in his abdomen and chest. Though he was unable to move, he continued to give orders to his team, until they eliminated all the suspected militants. He allowed himself to be evacuated only 35 minutes after the operation ended. Major Sudhir was airlifted to the army base hospital but he succumbed to the injuries en-route. Major Sudhir Walia was a valiant soldier and an officer par excellence, who led from the front and laid down his life in the line of his duty following the highest traditions of the Indian Army. Major Sudhir Walia was given the nation’s highest peacetime gallantry award, “Ashok Chakra” on 26 Jan 2000 for his outstanding gallantry, unyielding fighting spirit and supreme sacrifice. He is survived by his father, an Army veteran Subedar Major Rulia Ram Walia, mother Smt Rajeswari Devi, brother Arun and sister Bindiya .
The citation for the “Ashok Chakra” awarded to him reads:
On 29 August 1999, at 0830 hours, Major Sudhir Kumar Walia led a squad of five men into the dense undergrowth in Haphruda forest in Kupwara District of Jammu and Kashmir. Soon he heard voices of militants but was unable to see them. He along with his buddy crawled uphill and on reaching a knoll, observed two armed militants barely four metres ahead, and a large covered hideout in a depression 15 Metres below.
The officer immediately fired killing the closest sentry and charged at the second who jumped back towards the hideout. Maj Sudhir Kumar without hesitation charged at the hideout with only his buddy giving him covering fire. The militants who numbered about twenty were shocked and rushed out in an attempt to flee. The officer single-handedly grappled with them and firing from a distance of two metres, killed four militants. In this action, he was, however, hit on his face, chest and arm and fell down bleeding profusely at the entrance to the hideout.
Major Sudhir Kumar, although unable to move, called up his troop commanders and all the stops on the radio set and directed them to hold fast and not allow the rest of the militants to escape. it was only after 35 minutes, when the firefight stopped that he permitted his evacuation. Bleeding profusely, he continued to pass instructions to his troops on his radio set. He passed away holding his set.
Major Sudhir Kumar, thus, displayed the most conspicuous gallantry and bravery beyond compare and made the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.