Two Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) constables have been conferred with the Kirti Chakra posthumously for thwarting a suicide attack at the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2008, Home Ministry officials said.
Constable Ajay Singh Pathania, who hailed from Pathankot in Punjab, and Constable Roop Singh of Mandi in Himachal Pradesh laid down their lives while preventing an explosive-laden vehicle from entering the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008.
"Pathania and Singh displayed extreme courage and valour, dedication and devotion to duty, motivation and determination, averted a major disaster inside the Indian Embassy at Kabul and gave the supreme sacrifice protecting the honour and sovereignty of the nation for which they were honoured with Kirti Chakra posthumously," a Home Ministry official said.
On a fateful day, Singh was manning the barrier of the embassy's main gate while Pathania was on sentry duty.
The official said a Land Rover vehicle carrying the defence attache Brigadier R D Mehta and Counsellor V Venkatashwara Rao approached the gate around 8:30 am. Pathania spotted a white Toyota Corolla car just behind the Land Rover. Having served in Afghanistan for some time and being fully aware of modus operandi of suicidal attacks, both the constables foresaw the possibility that the vehicle could be laden with explosives and carrying a suicide bomber, the official said.
Pathania became suspicious of the trailing car and shouted at Singh not to lift the anti-bomb hexa-barrier.
Singh reacted with alacrity and did not lift the barrier. The Toyota Corolla rammed into the Land Rover resulting in a huge explosion, causing the death of the defence attache and the senior diplomat.
Both Pathania and Singh prevented the trailing vehicle from entering the embassy compound, thereby negating the damage intentioned and thwarting, the designs of the militants besides saving lives of the other embassy staff, another official said.
The Kirti Chakra is the country's military award for valour, courage action and self-sacrifice. It is second in order of precedence of peacetime gallantry awards after the Ashoka Chakra.
(With inputs from agencies.)