They scripted tales of bravery at home and abroad. Some lived to tell, others gave it all. On the eve of the 63rd Independence Day, a grateful nation feted their courage.
Major Mohit Sharma and Major D Sreeram Kumar will be awarded the Ashok Chakra, the country’s highest peacetime gallantry award, on Saturday.
On March 21, Major Sharma, 31, took on four terrorists in the Hafruda forests of Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir in a fierce gun battle. He gunned down all four before breathing his last.
Major Kumar killed 12 militants and nabbed 23 in Manipur under Operation Hifazat. He was only 29.
President Pratibha Patil on Friday also approved 143 gallantry awards, including four Kirti Chakras and 26 Shaurya Chakras, for the armed forces.
Peacetime equivalent of Maha Vir Chakra, the Kirti Chakra will be conferred on Major Amit Oscar Fernandes, Major Deepak Tewari, Naik Rishikesh Gurjar and Paratrooper Shabir Ahmad Malik.
Major Fernandes killed three terrorists in Baramulla in a gunfight on November 16, 2008, while Major Tewari killed another three in the state.
Malik killed two terrorists in Kupwara in a hand-to-hand combat before succumbing to his injuries. Gurjar was part of several successful counter-terrorism operations in J&K.
As many as 775 medals will be awarded to para-military police officers, including Natinal Security Guard Group Commander Ajai Singh, CRPF’s Inspector General Rajesh Pratap Singh and DIG Vikram Sahgal, for displaying extraordinary bravery and dedication in fighting terrorists, Naxalites and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Police officer Lok Nath Behra is the only one from the National Investigation Agency in the list.
Also on the award list are 22 Central Industrial Security Force personnel who fought off attempt to rob the National Aluminium Compan’'s bauxite mines of its 50-kg explosives on April 12.
Head constables Bhagirath Singh, Amarendra Sarmah and three constables were in direct line of Naxal fire, but managed to push them back. Sarmah took 19 bullets, but braved death long enough to plant the Tricolour at the post.
Four Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, including Inspector Manoj Kumar, constables Desha Singh and Onkar Nath, have been named for Shaurya Chakra and Anil Kumar T for police gallantry for saving the lives of Border Roads Organisation engineers in suicide attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The President also approved three gallantry and two meritorious service awards for the Coast Guard.