The Maharashtra government on Monday told the Bombay high court that though a proposal had been sent to the Centre for presenting gallantry awards to police officials and members of bomb disposal squads for fighting terrorists during the 26/11 attacks, it had rejected the names.
The state government had recommended the name of police inspector Steven Mathews Anthony for the police medal for gallantry, besides 18 others of the Bomb Disposal Squad. However, the Centre did not consider them.
This was revealed in a letter written by GC Yadav, under secretary to the Union government in the ministry of home affairs, to the state home ministry on November 12, 2013.
A copy of this letter was placed by government pleader Aruna Pai before a bench headed by justice PV Hardas, which adjourned for two weeks a PIL filed by Ketan Tirodkar demanding Ashok Chakra and gallantry awards for all the officers who fought with terrorists during the terror attacks.
The court had on last occasion asked the state to inform about the steps taken to honour officials who showed bravery during the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008.
The letter written by the Centre said though the state had recommended names of police and bomb disposal squad officers for gallantry awards, they were not considered. However, no reason was assigned why they were not considered.
In view of the Centre rejecting the names, Tirodkar said he would like to amend the petition to include the Centre as a respondent. The court gave him two weeks to carry out the amendment. Earlier, he had made only state as a respondent.
The petition stated that only four police officers Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and Tukaram Ombale were given the Ashok Chakra award.
"Several other officers like Sadanand Date, Vijay Khandekar and Arun Jadhav also showed bravery during the attacks. They did not lose their lives, but had fought with terrorists," the petition stated.
The PIL further claimed that Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar had not even fought with terrorists. "The trio was killed in an ambush. If they have been awarded Ashok Chakra, then there are several other policemen who deserve the award more than them," the petition argued.