Service No: JC-593527
Date of Birth: Mar 06,1968
Birth place: Bhadarwah, J & K
Last Rank: Naib Subedar
Unit: 8 JAK LI
Regt: J&K Light Infantry
Award: AC, VrC, SM
Date of Martyrdom : Jun 24, 2007
Naib Subedar Chuni Lal was born on 06 Mar 1968 in Bhaderwah, South Kashmir and lived in Bhaar village in Doda district of Jammu. His valour was unparalleled right from the time he joined the army. He was soldier of 8 th Battallion of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and joined this Battalion at the age of 19 in 1987. Naib Subedar Chuni Lal as a young soldier volunteered and participated in 1987 in an operation to capture the Bana Post, located at 21,153 feet in the Siachen Glacier, for which he was awarded the Sena Medal (Gallantry). During June 1987, the troops of 8th JAK Li, were deployed in the Siachen area. It was then found that a large number of Pakistani infiltrators had intruded in the area of Siachen Glacier. The ejection of these infiltrators was difficult but necessary and a special task force was constituted for this purpose. Then Sep Chuni Lal and other soldiers of the unit such as Naib Subedar (later Sub Maj and Hony Capt) Bana Singh volunteered to join this task force.
The Pakistani intrusion had taken place at a height of 6500 metres at the highest peak in the Siachen Glacier area. From this feature the Pakistanis could snipe at Indian army positions since the height gave them a clear view of the entire Saltoro ridge and Siachen glacier. The Pakistanis called this post ‘Quaid post’ after their founder Quaid-e-azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The enemy post was a glacier fortress with ice walls, 457 metres high, on either side.
On 26 June 1987, Naib Subedar Bana Singh led Sep Chuni Lal and other men through an extremely difficult and hazardous route. These men crawled and closed in on the adversary and cleared the post of all intruders. During this operation named as “Operation Rajiv”, Sep Chuni Lal shot down two attackers single-handedly and was instrumental in the elimination of twelve attackers. He was given the gallantry award “Vir Chakra” for his outstanding courage and inspiring fighting spirit.
Kupwara Operation : 24th June 2007
During 2007, Naib Subedar Chuni Lal’s unit was deployed along the LoC in Kupwara sector. Nb Sub Chuni Lal and his troops were manning the forward post along the LoC which was very volatile, wherein the Pakistani forces resorted to unprovoked firing very often. The post was located at a height of 4,500 meters, where visibility remained relatively low and temperature in the range of minus 3- 5 degrees. On 24 June 2007, at around 3.30 am in the morning, Nb Sub Chuni Lal and his team sensed unusual movement on the Line of Control near to their post and immediately swung into action to deal with it.
Nb Sub Chuni Lal realized that the movement noticed by them was an infiltration bid by the terrorist and it was very important to foil that bid. The troops soon spotted the terrorists who fired at them on being challenged. Soon a fierce exchange of fire followed that continued for more than an hour. Nb Sub Chuni Lal and his soldiers surrounded the whole area to plug the escape routes. Two soldiers of his team got injured in the cross-fire and Nb Sub Chuni Lal with total disregard to his personal safety crawled to the area and dragged them away to a safer place. Nb Sub Chuni Lal also manged to kill three of the attackers during the process.
However during the exchange of fire, Nb Sub Chuni Lal got hit by the enemy’s bullets and was severely injured. He later succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. Nb Sub Chuni Lal was given the nation’s highest peace time gallantry award “Ashok Chakra” for his exceptional bravery, leadership, comradeship and supreme sacrifice, on 15 August 2007.
Naib Subedar Chuni Lal is survived by his wife, Mrs Chinta Devi, son Manveer Singh, and two daughters.
The citation for the Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:
Hav Chuni Lal was part of a special mission operation at the Line of Control in Doda- Poonch Sector in Jammu and Kashmir. On 24 August 2000, he successfully thwarted enemy’s attack to capture own forward post. On the night 23rd/24th August 2000, the enemy started shelling and firing heavily at own post. Despite heavy shelling, Hav Chuni Lal displayed undaunted bravery by moving from bunker-to bunker in his section and motivating his troops who brought down effective medium machine gun fire on the enemy’s attacking column. Subsequently, he inspired his men by personal example to fight a close quarter battle in open trenches. Observing that two enemy soldiers have jumped inside own communication trench, he picked up a light machine gun and rushed I at them disregarding own safety and shot them dead. Taken by surprise at the ferocity of the pro-active stance of own troops, the enemy quickly retreated leaving behind several weapons at our post. Twelve enemy soldiers were killed in the action. Hav Chuni Lal displayed conspicuous courage and relentless offensive action in the face of the enemy.
Tribute from a fellow soldier:
If there was one quality that marked Chuni Lal as a soldier, it was daredevilry. When bullets were flying around him he said he would lead from the front. Naib Subedar Chunilal was the rarest of the rare in the army. It was not a chance incident where he showed his bravery. Bravery and valour were in his blood. This is no exaggeration because every time he got an opportunity, he made the best use of it. He never allowed his subordinates to go ahead of him in danger. Even in this operation, he pulled one soldier back, saying — ‘I am the commander, let me go first.’ That kind of ethos and mental attitude is not seen in the real sense.
He was 17 years old when he joined the battalion in 1985. I have seen him grow from one rank to the other. He was dashing, took a lot of initiative, had team spirit and the courage of conviction. He excelled in all military subjects. Just two years after joining service he got an opportunity to be part of an operation with Subedar Bana Singh in 1987. He volunteered to go into that operation where the post was recaptured and renamed Bana Top. He was the first few to reach that post along with Bana Singh and received a Sena Medal. In 1999 — when the unit was deployed in Poonch, there was an attempted intrusion and he fought back. As the post commander, he synchronised the firing and deployment — 12 infiltrators were killed and he was awarded the Vir Chakra. So before the Ashok Chakra, he was already a twice decorated soldier. He was a very fit man and served as an instructor at the NCC Officers Academy, Kamptee, Madhya Pradesh. He used to always come first in the battle physical efficiency test.
Tribute from his Battalion in Sudan:
He represented the Indian Army in Sudan in 2006 as a United Nations Peacekeeper and displayed devotion to duty while serving in the difficult operational situation in Sudan. We were tasked to set up the initial mission there. There were terrain and climatic challenges and we were tasked to move the entire store from India to Sudan and establish the team site. There was a crisis between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the forces took out their tanks and guns and started firing and we with the blue berets were required to calm them down. It was successfully carried out by the Indian contingent. Within 7 days it was calmed down. The unit carried out the humanitarian operation, the relief operation and the evacuation of UN officials out of that location to a safe place. For this the battalion was awarded the United Nations Unit Citation for valour. We are the only battalion to receive a citation from the UN. It is a very rare accomplishment.
Chinta Devi, Naib Subedar Chuni Lal’s widow:
My husband loved the army. He always looked forward to going back after the end of his holidays. He used to come once a year for a month or so. He had always wanted to be a soldier and used to tell me about his life serving on the border. My loss is immense but I know he did such a great task for the country. Everyone in my village speaks so highly of him, they all say he was such a brave man. He truly was.
My son wants to join the army as an officer. He has to live up to his father’s name. ‘Mujhe daddy ka badla lena hain’ (I want to avenge my father’s death). My husband also wanted my son to join the army. I am not scared that my son could face the same fate, because his father wanted him to join the army. That was his wish.
Manveer Singh, Naib Subedar Chuni Lal’s son:
“I was at home when the news of my father’s death reached us. He was a very brave man. Everyone says that. I want to join the army and become an infantry officer. I have always wanted to join the army. I am not scared. I have my father’s example before me but it is sad that he will not be there from now on. I want to do something for this nation. I know it can be dangerous but there are certain things that have to be faced. I just want to make my father proud”.