REMEMBERING THE MARTYRS: (Clockwise from top left): Wives of Hemant Karkare, Gajender Singh, Tukaram Gopal Ombale, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar and mother of Sandeep Unnikrishnan receive the Ashoka Chakra award from President Pratibha Patil at the Republic Day function in New Delhi on Monday.
In all, 11 security men were awarded posthumously Ashok Chakra at the investiture ceremony. It was a rather sombre moment as the wives of 10 awardees and Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan’s mother received the honour from President Pratibha Patil.
Ms. Patil patted and comforted the women, with some of them touching her feet.
Chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad of Maharashtra Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte, Inspector of Anti-Extortion Cell of the Maharashtra Crime Branch Vijay Salaskar and Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police Tukaram Ombale were given the award for sacrificing their lives while fighting terrorists in Mumbai in November 2008.
Loud applause A loud applause erupted when the names of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havildar Gajender Singh of the 51 Special Action Group of the elite National Security Guard were announced. They died during the commando operation in Mumbai. Many in the audience rose from their seats as the awards were presented.
Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who led a police team in the Batla House encounter in Jamia Nagar here last September was honoured.
Wives of Colonel Jojan Thomas, Commanding Officer of 45 Rashtriya Rifles, and Havildar Bahadur Singh Bohra of the Parachute Regiment, who were killed in separate counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir received the award from the President.
R. P. Diengdoh of the Meghalaya Police, who had shot dead a militant and captured two others in the jungles of Meghalaya, was also honoured.
Wife of Assistant Commandant of the Special Operation Group of the Orissa State Armed Police P.K. Satapathy collected the award bestowed on him for his valour while countering naxalite violence.