The impressive number of gallantry awards announced by the Government of India on the eve of Republic Day 2024 reflects the raw guts and phenomenal spirit of sacrifice that exists within the entire rank and file of the Indian security forces. The highest gallantry award announced this year is the Kirti Charkra [KC], which is the second highest peacetime gallantry award], and the fact that three out of the six recipients are being conferred with this medal posthumously indicates its stringent qualifying parameters.
Havildar [Sergeant] Abdul Majid is one of the bravehearts being awarded KC posthumously. A resident of Ajote Village in the Haveli district of Poonch, J&K, Majid was a commando who had been serving with Special Forces [SF] in J&K since 2011. As its designation implies, SF are units trained for special operations, direct action, hostage rescue, counter-terrorism, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defence, counter-proliferation, counter-insurgency, seek and destroy and personnel recovery.
Considering the extremely dangerous nature of operations that SF units of the Indian army are required to undertake, induction into this elite force is purely voluntary, and even after entry, a commando is free to revert back to his parent unit by opting out whenever he so desires. Volunteers desirous of joining are put through an unbelievably rigorous selection process to assess their physical fitness and mental resilience. Even after selection, the operational performance of new entrants is closely monitored in live situations during which they remain under probation and are accepted into the SF fold only after they measure up this organisation’s exacting standards.
So, it’s only the best of the best that get the privilege of joining SF-and Majid was one of them.
For 12 years, Majid operated continuously in J&K and participated in numerous operations and fierce encounters in various sectors- from Bandipora, Kupwara and Baramulla districts of North Kashmir to the Poonch and Rajouri districts of South Kashmir. His superiors and peers speak highly about Majid’s professional acumen and recall that his exceptional courage and extraordinary concern for the safety of his brothers-in-arms was only exceeded by his humility and unassuming demeanour.
Having grown up hearing stories from elders on how peaceful life was in J&K before Pakistan Army’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence [ISI] unleashed terrorism Majid experienced a stifling environment vitiated by Pakistan sponsored terrorism in his home state. Like many others, Majid represented the substantial section of Kashmiri youth who have realised that they are being used as cannon-fodder by Rawalpindi’s ongoing proxy war. Perhaps this is why Majid never missed an opportunity to fight Pakistan Army’s proxies, and did so without seeking fame or glory.
On November 22, 2023, an officer leading a search operation in the densely forested and mountainous area of Kalakot area in Rajouri district of J&K was fired upon by terrorists hiding in the thick undergrowth and critically injured. As the terrorists had occupied a dominating position and were bringing down effective fire, extricating the injured officer posed a major challenge, the SF squad which was being commanded by Majid was assigned this task. On reaching the site, Majid immediately took stock of the situation and realised that the situation demanded immediate intervention.
SF commandos commonly rely on the element of surprise by exploiting their exceptional fieldcraft skills and ability to traverse what to others may seem to be non-negotiable terrain. However, as the injured officer was losing blood fast, time was of critical importance and hence there was no other option but to press on despite being exposed to accurate fire. Realising the grave risk involved, Majid decided to personally undertake this task and braving the hail of bullets being fired by the terrorist, managed to shift the injured officer to a safe place and facilitated his evacuation.
Though he successfully completed the assigned task of extricating the injured officer, Majid decided to go ahead and with his commando squad eliminate the terrorist who by taking up an unassailable position inside a natural cave was potentially a grave threat to the security force personnel in the area. This daunting task was fraught with danger yet Majid remained unfazed and by ably manoeuvring his squad, managed to close-in with the cave inside which the terrorist had taken refuge.
Unfortunately, while leading his men from the front, Majid was hit by a bullet in his leg, but unmindful of his injury and despite profuse bleeding he crawled up to the mouth of the cave and lobbed a hand grenade. This forced the terrorist to rush outside and he did so with his AK rifle blazing. Realising that his squad members were exposed and hence in grave danger, Majid despite his grievous injury charged at and killed the terrorist at close quarters before succumbing to his injuries.
Majid’s devotion to duty, raw courage and utmost concern for the safety of the men under his command is in keeping with the age-old tradition of the Indian army which will inspire future generations. Islamabad keeps peddling the ludicrous narrative that the people of Kashmir en masse want to become part of Pakistan and has used every trick in the book to popularise the “Kashmir banega Pakistan” [Kashmir will become part of Kashmir] slogan amongst the public.
Much to Rawalpindi’s chagrin, despite working overtime for more than three decades, ISI’s objective of creating anarchy in Kashmir hasn’t fructified. This is because Kashmir has no dearth of patriots like Majid who consider it their solemn duty and societal responsibility to defeat Pakistan backed terrorists responsible for spilling the blood of innocent Kashmiris, even if it demands making the supreme sacrifice!