For the first time,the Ashok Chakra,the nations highest peacetime gallantry award,will be conferred upon 11 individuals,including Delhi Police Inspector M C Sharma,who died in the Batla House shootout,four Mumbai policemen and two NSG commandos who died in the line of duty during the Mumbai terror attacks.
From an initial list of eight probables,the number of Ashok Chakra awardees for this Republic Day swelled to an unprecedented 11 after consultations at the highest
level. Until now,the highest number of Ashok Chakra awards in a single year has been three,conferred upon security personnel (non-military) who died fighting militants during the attack on Parliament in December,2001.
While Mumbai ASI Tukaram Ombles name was never in doubt,discussions till the very last ensured that top police officials Hemant Karkare,Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar too would be honoured with the award posthumously.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that Karkare and Omble were to be the only Mumbai policemen to be honoured with the Ashok Chakra while others,including Kamte and Salaskar,were to get the Kirti Chakra and police gallantry medals. The Mumbai Police had recommended names of 12 personnel for the award but the government felt that selection had to be strictly by the definition of the award for the most conspicuous bravery,or some act of daring or pre-eminent valor or self-sacrifice during peacetime.
NSGs Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havaldar Gajinder Singh,who died fighting terrorists,are in the final list:
•M C Sharma: Delhi Police Inspector who died in the Batla House shootout.
•ASI Tukaram Omble: Took the bullets but held on to terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasabs gun,leading to his capture.
•Maj Sandeep Unnikrishnan: Died while flushing out terrorists at the Taj Hotel.
•Hav Gajinder Singh: Killed in the Nariman House operation. Was the first to enter the building.
•Hemant Karkare,Ashok Kamte,Vijay Salaskar: Killed while chasing terrorists near Cama Hospital.
•Col Jojan Thomas: CO of 45 RR,he died fighting militants in Kupwara. 12 militants were killed in the encounter.
•Hav Bahadur Singh: He was part of a counter-insurgency operation last year.
•R P Diengdoh: Meghalaya Police DSP who died while leading an operation against militants.
•Pramod Kumar Satapathy: Asst Commandant of Orissas Special Operation Group who died battling Naxalites.