NEW DELHI: Lt Col Niranjan E K, head of NSG's bomb disposal unit who was killed while sanitising a terrorist's body during the Pathankot air base terror attack in January, has been honoured with the Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peacetime gallantry medal of the country, on the eve of the 70th Independence Day.
Niranjan, an officer of the Army's Corps of Engineer, was part of the special NSG commandos unit that was rushed to the IAF base in Punjab after four terrorists entered the high-security military facility on the intervening night of January 1-2.
NSG had said it lost the experienced and brilliant counter-IED officer to a deadly booby trap as the terrorists had used an "innovative technique" whose antidote was not included in the Standard Operating Procedure of the 'black cat' commandos force.
Niranjan's lungs got punctured due to the impact of the blast of a grenade that was kept in the pocket of a slain terrorist and the officer died before being taken to hospital.
NSG Director General R C Tayal, had maintained that Niranjan, an experienced and highly trained Commanding Officer of the Bomb Disposal and Detection Unit, had followed all laid down SOPs while sanitising the bodies of the four terrorists, killed in the attack on IAF base on January 3. Niranjan was probably the only officer who had a wide-range of experience in conducting back-to-back anti-sabotage and sanitisation checks on live bombs, including defusing IEDs found in Patna and Bodh Gaya in Bihar, Bangalore and Burdwan in West Bengal.
The DG had said a grenade that took the FBI-trained officer's life was concealed very "cleverly" by the terrorists.
The brave officer had sanitised two bodies and was working on the third when the fatal blast claimed his life.
The Pathankot attack claimed the lives of seven security personnel while four terrorists were killed by NSG and other security personnel.
While the NSG has maintained six terrorists were involved in the attack, including two in the airmen billet which they brought down using heavy explosives, according to the NIA, it so far has proof of presence of only four militants whose bodies were later recovered.