Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran is the only person to be awarded a Param Vir Chakra for military operations in Sri Lanka. His battalion, the 8th Battalion of the Mahar Regiment, was one of the first to be sent to the island nation as part of the Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF).
Before being sent to Sri Lanka, Major Parameswaran had taken part in several counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.
The IPKF had been sent to the island nation to maintain order under the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement signed in July 1987.Its primary objective was to oversee a surrender by armed militant groups seeking an independent Tamil Eelam, or state.
But the Indian forces soon found themselves engaged in fierce guerrilla battles with a determined cadre of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which had retained a large number of weapons after a token surrender.
On 25 November 1987, Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran (or Parry Sahib, as his men called him) and his team had gone for a search operation in north Jaffna. They were returning late at night when his column was ambushed by a group of militants.
Inspiring His Men
“With cool presence of mind, he encircled the militants from the rear and charged into them, taking them completely surprise. During the hand-to-hand combat, a militant shot him in the chest. Undaunted, Major Parameswaran snatched the rifle from the militant and shot him dead. Gravely wounded, he continued to give orders and inspired his command till he breathed his last,” reads the citation for his Param Vir Chakra.
Inspired by Major Parameswaran’s gallantry, his men continued to fight back, forcing the militants to scatter and begin retreating in panic. Five militants were killed. Three rifles and two rocket launchers were recovered and the ambush was cleared.
The battalion lost three more men in addition to Parameswaran while at least nine soldiers were injured. Major Ramaswamy Parameswaran displayed the most conspicuous gallantry and thought nothing of dying at his post, the citation says.
The IPKF stayed on for a few more years before leaving Sri Lanka in 1990.