Monday, February 2, 2009

Ashok Chakra for six 26/11 bravehearts

Six security personnel who laid down their lives fighting terrorists in the Mumbai terror attacks have been selected for Ashok Chakra, the highest peace-time gallantry award.

Anti-Terrorists Squad (ATS) chief Mr. Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner of Mumbai police Mr.Ashok Kamte, Inspector Mr.Vijay Salaskar, Assistant Sub-Inspector Mr.Tukaram Omble, NSG commando Major Sandeep Unikrishnan and NSG Havaldar Mr.Gajender Singh have been honoured with the prestigious award...

Ashok Chakra is awarded for the "most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent valour or self-sacrifice" other than in the face of the enemy during war.

Karkare, an IPS officer of the 1982 batch who headed Mumbai's elite ATS worked with the Research and Analysis Wing, the country's external intelligence agency, for seven years.

Karkare died fighting the terrorists from Pakistan near Cama hospital along with Kamte, a 1989 batch officer who was also killed along with Karkare at the every same spot.

Kamte, a St Stephens college pass-out, came into limelight after an August 2007 incident in Solapur when he arrested Ravikant Patil, a three-time Member of the Legislative Assembly from Karnataka.

Patil and his supporters were bursting crackers late in the night at the residence of his brother Ravikant, a Shiv Sena leader.

'Encounter cop' Inspector Salaskar, who died when the vehicle carrying three officers were ambushed by terrorists during 26/11 is widely credited with gunning down 75 to 80 criminals, most of them members of Arun Gawli gang.

Omble, who was involved in an hand to hand combat with the lone arrested terrorist Ajmal Kasab, too died a heroic death after being hit by the bullets because he was the first to charge towards Kasab and his associate armed with just a stick.

Major Unnikrishnan led the commando operation launched on November 27, 2008 to flush out terrorists from Taj Mahal hotel in which he rescued 14 hostages.

During the operation, his team came under intense hostile fire, during which one of his team members got grievously injured. Major Unnikrishnan pinned down the terrorists with accurate fire and rescued the injured commando but got hit.

But despite his injuries, he fought on till his last breath.

Havildar Singh, who led the rescue operation fought with terrorists at Nariman House where an Israeli family was staying. He kept on firing even while exposing himself completely and injured a terrorist while others were forced to retreat inside a room.

He continued to fire till he succumbed to the injuries sustained during the encounter