Unsung heroes: 3 home guards killed in Gurdaspur attack to get gallantry medals

  • Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 13, 2016 10:14 IST
Army personnel during an encounter with attackers at the police station in Dinanagar town in Gurdaspur district. (Sameer Sehgal / HT File  Photo )

Three home guards killed in last year’s terror strike in Gurdaspur and four officers of the Mumbai Fire Brigade are among those who will be awarded the President’s gallantry medals this year.

The Centre on Friday evening named Bodh Raj, Desh Raj and Sukhdev Singh for the President’s Home Guards & Civil Defence Medal for Gallantry for resisting Pakistani terrorists holed up in the Dinanagar police station last year.

Like Superintendent of Police Baljit Singh, they too laid down their lives in the July 27 terror strike.

But only Singh and two Punjab police officers, who fought the terrorists, were awarded medals in 2015. The three home guards were left out.

Their sacrifice did, however, inspire Punjab’s chief of home guards and civil defence to quickly set up a memorial designed on the lines of India Gate for the state’s home guards, whose sacrifice was never recognised. In all, 371 home guards have died on duty in Punjab.

A fourth home guard named for the President’s gallantry medal is from Uttar Pradesh.

Mahadev Prasad Mishra died fighting six armed miscreants who attacked a police station in Pratapgarh district to free their accomplice in February this year. In contrast, the station in-charge was reported to have locked himself in a room.

Legally, the home guards and civil defence is a volunteer force that serves as auxiliary to the police and helps the community in an emergency such as disasters. For most of the volunteers, though, it is their only job.

State governments often use them to augment the police presence at less than half the salary paid to the constabulary.

Mumbai Firemen awarded

Four officers of the Mumbai Fire Brigade who died last year saving people in the fire that brought down the Gokul Nivas building at Kalbadevi will receive the President’s Fire Service Medal for Gallantry this year.

This is the second President’s gallantry medal being awarded to Mumbai’s chief fire officer Sunil Nesarikar. He was awarded the first one, also posthumously, in 2015 for leading fire-fighting operations at the Lotus Business Park in bustling Andheri the previous year.

Nesrikar repeated the feat at Kalbadevi, but was trapped in the debris when a part of the Gokul Nivas building on fire collapsed. Three other fire officers, including his deputy Sudhir Gopal Amin, who died in the operation have also been awarded. The other two were Sanjay Waman Rane and MM Desai.

The four are the only fire officers to be awarded the President’s medal for gallantry this year.

In all, the home ministry announced on its website medals for nearly 60 home guards and civil defence personnel.

The move to put out the list on the official website three days before Independence Day is a break from convention. In the past, the names of the awardees were made public on the eve of Independence Day.

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