The Param Vir Chakra is awarded for most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self sacrifice, in the presence of the enemy, whether on land, at sea, or in the air. The decoration may be awarded posthumously.
*** Saluting our Heores – 2nd Lieutenant Rama Raghoba Rane, PVC ***
2nd Lieutenant Raghoba Rane’s story takes off from almost the same point as Naik Jadunath Singh’s tale of bravery ended.
It is late March 1948.
The Indian Army has recaptured Jhangar and the plan now is to move from Naushara to Rajauri to deal with the raiders and Pashtun tribesmen in that area.
Some 28 miles of wild rugged terrain road (connects) Naushera with Rajauri, climbing from a hot dry plain about 1500 feet above sea-level, to a height of 5000 feet in beautiful natural surroundings …From Naushera to Merian the road passes through a stretch of very difficult rugged terrain with many defiles. From Merian onwards it..follows the western bank of the Manawar Tawi river through cliffs and spurs of varying height, some with a drop of 500 feet to the river below.
…The area is mined and effectively covered by the enemy…All culverts had been destroyed and many large boulders and felled pine trees had been laid across to form roadblocks, these obstructions had then been mined. The cliffs and defiles closer to the river had been deliberately cut and the road was non-existent in several places.
Lt Col Zorawar Singh, CO, Central Indian Horse had flown over the area during the planning stage of the operation and assessed the damage as “frightening”, reporting that it would require an immense effort in time and labour to make the road usable as an axis of advance.
A map showing the advance to and the capture of Rajauri. Not to scale; the distance between Chingas and Rajauri is 14 miles (courtesy: Bharat-Rakshak.com).
The move to Rajouri – over this road as the “axis of advance” – is being led by 4 Dogra. The march leading up to an assault on Rajouri began on 8th April 1948. 4 Dogra has managed to capture Barwali Ridge in a short time but further advance is halted due to a large number of roadblocks and landmines.
The blocks are so well-prepared that even armour is finding it hard to cross over these obstacles. Their way is being cleared by a group of determined men, amongst them the 37 Assault Field Company which is attached to 4 Dogra. As the section starts clearing a minefield on April 8th, two sappers are killed and five others including Rane are injured in enemy mortar fire.
What happened next is best described in the Citation of Param Vir Chakra awarded to 2nd Lt Rane.
Second Lieutenant Rama Raghoba Rane, BOMBAY ENGINEER (SS-14246)
On 8 April 1948, Second Lieutenant Rama Raghoba Rane, Bombay Engineers, was ordered to be in charge of the mine and roadblock clearing party at Mile 26 on the Naushera-Rajouri road which passes through very hilly country.
At 1100 hours, on that date near Nadpur South, just as Second Lieutenant Rane and his party were waiting near the tanks to start the work of clearing the mines ahead, the enemy started heavy mortaring of the area, with the result that two men of the mine-clearing party were killed and five others including Second Lieutenant Rane were wounded. The officer at once reorganized his party and started work for the tanks to go on to their position. Throughout the day he was near the tanks under heavy enemy machine-gun and mortar fire.
After an arduous day, the road is finally cleared for the tanks to move ahead. The leading team could have secured a well-earned halt at this point but Rane was made of sterner stuff.
As the sun began to set on the mountains, Rane and his men decided to continue working through the night so that a safe lane can be preapread for the tanks.
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