Posthumous gallantry award for naval officer from Himachal

August 17th, 2008 - 2:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Aug 17 (IANS) Lt. Cdr Shwet Gupta, 28, who sacrificed his life while trying to save fellow sailors from a poisonous gas leak on INS Jalashwa in February this year, has been posthumously selected for the Nau Sena Medal by the defence ministry, said the officer’s wife Sunday. Shwet, who belonged to Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh, died trying to save the lives of five sailors trapped on the ship on which gas leakage took place while it was in the Bay of Bengal and was headed towards Port Blair.

His widow Charu Gupta, who received the communiqué, said: “I have received a letter from defence secretary Vijay Singh that the president of India has announced a gallantry award for Shwet, who sacrificed his life for the nation.”

In May, she had written to naval authorities demanding a gallantry award for the officer.

“…I also recall his sacrifice and feel proud and honoured to be his wife, and that reminds me of my obligation to contribute my efforts in ensuring that his sacrifice is duly recognised by the Fauz (defence) he laid down his life for,” wrote Charu to the chief of naval staff.

An alumnus of Military School at Chail in Solan district, he had won the sword of honour for the best passing-out officer in Naval College of Engineering.

Shwet had struggled for life for nine days after the Feb 1 incident and died at a hospital in Delhi. Six sailors died in the gas leak on INS Jalashwa, which is the first ship to be transferred from the US, besides being the first Landing Platform Dock (LPD) to be acquired by the Indian Navy.

INS Jalashwa is equipped with a Landing Craft Mechanized, as also six Sea King helicopters, radars and rapid firing guns to undertake maritime surveillance operations, special operations, search and rescue missions, and medical support and humanitarian relief operations.

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