NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday approved 374 Gallantry Awards and other defence decorations to Armed Forces personnel and others on the eve of the 66th Republic Day.
This include one Ashoka Chakra, three Kirti Chakras, 12 Shaurya Chakras, 48 Sena Medals (Gallantry), 2 Nao Sena Medals (Gallantry), 11 Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry), 28 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, three Uttam Yudh Seva Medals, three Bar to Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 53 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, 13 Yudh Seva Medals, 42 Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty), eight Nao Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty), 19 Vayu Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty), four Bar to Vishisht Seva Medals and 124 Vishisht Seva Medals.
The nation’s highest peacetime Gallantry Award, Ashoka Chakra, has been awarded posthumously to Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh of the 57 Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles (13 Rajputana Rifles). The officer, while leading a search operation in Gurdaji of Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir on August 24, last year, came under heavy firing from the terrorists. In the shoot-out, one of his buddies sustained injuries. Neeraj, risking own life, rescued his buddy. In the meantime, a terrorist hurled grenades and pumped bullets on Neeraj. Despite being badly hurt, he inched towards a terrorist and gunned him down. But in no time, he was shot by another ultra in the chest.
This time too, displaying unparalleled courage, he pounced on the terrorist, snatched his weapon and killed him in a hand-to-hand combat. After the operation ended, he refused to be evacuated till he lost consciousness. Later, he succumbed to injuries.
The President will also award Ashok Chakra to Major Mukund Varadarajan of the 44th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles (22 Rajput) posthumously (announced earlier on August 15, 2014) for showing exceptional bravery and courage while leading an anti-terrorism operation in a village of Shopiyan district of J&K on April 25, 2014.
During the operation, before attaining martyrdom, Major Mukund Varadarajan, displayed exemplary leadership skills, raw courage, planning and swift action which culminated in the elimination of three top-ranked Hizbul Mujaheddin terrorists.