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Honouring a veteran

Alby D’Cruz, Kerala’s first recipient of the Ashoka Chakra, will be honoured at an event to be inaugurated by former Defence Minister A K Antony today

Published: 30th October 2017 10:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2017 11:58 AM   |  A+A-

Alby D’Cruz receiving the Ashoka Chakra from President Rajendra Prasad in 1962

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “Dear sir, I am desired to inform you that the President will hold an Investiture at Rashtrapati Bhavan at 4.45 pm on Monday, the 30th April 1962, at which the President will be pleased to present the Ashok Chakra, Class III.” Thus read the letter from the Rashtrapati Bhavan inviting Alby D’Cruz who in 1962 became Kerala’s first recipient of the Ashoka Chakra, the highest peace-time military decoration. 

On Tuesday evening, the Coastal Collective Thiruvananthapuram will organise a reception for D’Cruz, now past 80. He now leads a retired life at Cheriyathura. The event, to be inaugurated by former Defence Minister A K Antony, will be held at the Press Club hall at 4 pm on Tuesday. Young D’Cruz had joined Assam Rifles as a Lance Naik in 1958, at the age of 22. His primary responsibility was wireless communication. In 1960, the Assam Rifles outpost where he was stationed was surrounded by 500 Naga insurgents. D’Cruz had been designated to keep in touch with the military HQ, but the fuel for the wireless equipment had run out. He averted the crisis by successfully procuring the fuel. 

In a second instance, the Army had air-dropped weapons for the outpost, but it missed its target and fell some distance away. Only D’Cruz showed the courage to slip through the Naga ranks and retrieve the weapons, thus saving the lives of 40 soldiers.  

He received the Ashoka Chakra from President Rajendra Prasad. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was present on the occasion. D’Cruz retired from service in 1975, after 16 years of service. He is married to Matilda, and the couple has three children. Coastal Collective convener M Paul will preside over Tuesday’s reception. Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran will deliver the keynote address.

Showing valour intimes of crisis
Alby D’Cruz had joined Assam Rifles as a Lance Naik in 1958, at the age of 22. His primary responsibility was wireless communication. In 1960, the Assam Rifles outpost where he was stationed was surrounded by 500 Naga insurgents. But the fuel for the wireless equipment had run out. He averted the crisis by  procuring the fuel



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