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A soldier who was the bravest of the brave

Before he turned 20, Chuni Lal had already won a Sena Medal for bravery on the icy heights of the Siachen glacier. At 21,153 feet, the Siachen glacier is the world's highest and toughest battlefield. To get a sense of the height and what super human effort it must take to fight a battle there, the post that he fought to recapture was just 7,875 feet lower than Mount Everest, which is 29,000 feet tall

The young sepoy, just two years into the army, had volunteered to be a part of the operation led by the indomitable Naib Subedar Bana Singh, one of India's greatest living heroes, who himself won the Param Vir Chakra, the country's highest gallantry award for that operation.

Chuni Lal was a member of Bana Singh's team, which had the task of clearing Pakistani intruders from the post, which was almost an unbreachable glacier fortress with 1,500 feet high walls of ice on both sides. In extremely difficult circumstances, the men led by Bana Singh crawled from trench to trench and cleared the post of all infiltrators.

Twenty years after that feat of courage, by June 2007, Naib Subedar Chuni Lal had won three gallantry awards and was amongst the most highly decorated soldiers of the Indian Army.

Image: Naib Subedar Chuni Lal is amongst the most highly decorated soldiers of the Indian Army
Photograph courtesy: 8 J&K Light Infantry

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