Lt.Col.Bottolanda Shambhu Muthappa SM
Lt.Col.Muthappa SM (Bottolanda Shambhu), had actively participated in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war for which he was awarded with a “Sena Medal ”
He later was a part of the Indian peace keeping operations in Sri Lanka as well.
Here is a brief detail of his 1971 Indo-Pak war operation :
“On the nights of the 2nd & 3rd of Dec 1971, hostilities broke out between India and Pakistan. Pakistani forces attacked India on the western border and Indian troops countered with a major assault, repelled the attack and even captured a large territory of Pakistan.
Simultaneously Indian forces were attacking East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
During this time, Lt.Col.Muthappa, then a Second lieutenant, was posted in the Eastern front with the 3 Engineer Regiment, a part of 23 Infantry Division. His division was attached to an Armoured Squadron consisting of PT – 76 tanks. As war broke out, the Armoured Squadron was pressed into assault. On the 3rd of Dec 1971, information was received that the armoured squadron had encountered an enemy minefield and one of their tanks was blown off while attacking the enemy positions; the area was mined by Pakistani troops.
He was tasked to breach the minefield, clear it and make it safe for the movement of our tanks & troops. He advanced into the minefield area with a few of his Engineer Troops alongside .
They spotted the tank in the enemy minefield, which was now on fire. As they approached the burning tank, they heard the voice of a man, groaning in pain. It was clear that one of our men was trapped inside. As they began to further approach the tank, a few enemy troops on the other side spotted them and opened fire. Muthappa & his fellow soldiers took cover, positioned their LMGs ( light machine gun ), assault rifles and returned fire to engage the enemy. This counter attack managed to silence the enemy guns and Muthappa, taking advantage of this moment, ran across the still active minefield, towards the burning tank. Few of our soldiers also followed him. Upon reaching, he climbed up and noticed that the turret of the tank was open. When he looked inside, he found that the groaning man was trapped and injured. As he pulled the injured soldier out, he noticed that the man’s leg was badly injured and dangling almost hanging by the skin. Muthappa carried the injured man on his shoulder, and with the help of his fellow soldiers, managed to safely make the way back from the enemy minefield. The injured solider was evacuated from the frontline to receive medical attention.
For this act of exhibiting bravery with total disregard to his own life in the battlefield, he was conferred the gallantry award “Sena Medal” by the Indian Army.