Two years after 15 personnel belonging to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) were killed in a chopper crash, while trying to rescue stranded pilgrims during the Uttarakhand floods, the government announced gallantry awards for them posthumously.
The medals and distinction for their valour came only after the widows of the deceased personnel met Savitri Singh, wife of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Its just not one distinction for them, the government has also announced Jeevan Rakshak Padak medals for the 15 men, a series of awards given to a person for meritorious act of humane nature from all walks of life. Gallantry medals on the other hand are only awarded to police personnel.
Madhuri Gupta, who lost her husband Nityanand Gupta, who was the second-in-command of NDRF, said the “award was a recognition of her husband’s sacrifice.” The medals assume significance as the five Indian Air Force counterparts, who were also killed in the same crash were honoured with one Kirti Chakra, one Shaurya Chakra and three Vayu Sena Medals the same year, while NDRF and ITBP men were left out.
“We met the Home Minister’s wife last year in October… We spoke to her and told her about the issue. How IAF men had received the medals and our husbands who died in exactly the same chopper crash were not given any recognition. I am happy that the recognition for my husband has finally come,” Gupta said.