The government on Saturday conferred the Shaurya Chakra on the late lieutenant commander Manoranjan Kumar for saving “94 crew members in the submarine” INS Sindhuratna, which sank on February 26, 2014. The incident had led to the resignation of former Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi.
Kumar’s mother received the medal from President Pranab Mukherjee. According to the citation that accompanied Kumar’s medal, “the officer” disregarded his personal safety and “ordered evacuation of 13 personnel to safer areas”.
The citation further read, “He did the firefighting himself and provided vital inputs to the command post on the status of damage control and further likely implications… he limited the damage to localised area, preventing the spread to the battery compartment below, thus obviating the extremely dangerous possibility of damage to the entire submarine… (Kumar) displayed dogged determination and exceptional courage and made the supreme sacrifice while saving the 94 crew members in the submarine.”
Kumar was working as the watch-keeping officer when smoke was detected in the third compartment of the submarine. Kumar as well as Lt Cdr Kapish Singh Muwal — the second officer who died on board Sindhuratna — were being “considered” for the Shaurya Chakra.
Eleven Shaurya Chakras were conferred by the President. The recipients included late Major Abhijai, the engineer officer of the Army who lost his life in a chopper crash in Bareilly in October 2014. The medal was received by the late officer’s wife Anjali Thapa. Major Abhishek Kumar was honoured for neutralising three terrorists in Sopore on January 13, 2014 — two weeks ahead of his planned wedding on January 27. On Saturday, as the officer met the president, his pregnant wife watched the ceremony on television. Kumar said the biggest reward has been “life”. “To participate in an operation to serve the nation and then return to receive the medal, there cannot be a
bigger reward than this… I did not work for the medal — at the time of the operation, the only aim was to neutralise the militants,” Kumar of 22 Rashtriya Rifles said.
The President conferred one Kirti Chakra, 11 Shaurya Chakras (three posthumously), 14 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, three Uttam Yudh Seva Medals and 26 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals to senior officers. PM Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also attended the ceremony.