On Rajpath, 10 widows and a mother stand for India’s bravehearts

January 26th, 2009 - 5:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) Two months after the Mumbai terror attack rocked the nation, India Monday bestowed upon its bravehearts of Mumbai, New Delhi and Kashmir the highest peacetime gallantry award, Ashok Chakra, at the annual parade marking the 60th Republic Day. As President Pratibha Devisingh Patil gave away the awards to 11 soldiers and policemen posthumously, including six killed in the Mumbai terror attacks Nov 26-29, for “supreme sacrifice” and “exceptional gallantry”, 10 widows and one mother stood stoically, hearing on the public address system the encomiums to their loved ones who were no more. Not one broke down as thousands gathered in Rajpath for the Republic Day parade watched in pin drop silence.

National Security Guard (NSG) commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havildar Gajender Singh, Maharashtra’s Joint Police Commissioner Hemant Kamlakar Karkare, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Marutrao Kamte, Inspector Vijay Shahadev Salaskar and Assistant Sub-Inspector Tukaram Gopal Ombale were awarded the gallantry award for their role in thwarting the terrorists during the Nov 26-29 attacks in Mumbai.

Unnikrishnan’s mother Dhanalakshmi touched Patil’s feet in the traditional gesture of respect after receiving the Ashok Chakra on behalf of her son. The president made it a point to pat Karkare’s widow Kavita, Kamte’s widow Vinita and each of their other women on the shoulder, and all the others, and spoke briefly to each.

The parade began with the nation recalling the “major assault to its peace” in Mumbai two months back and the “mythical courage” displayed by the heroes.

The commentator said: “On Nov 26 last year, a group of murderous terrorists unleashed raw evil on the soul of Mumbai, one of India’s best loved cities. Today every citizen respectfully pays homage to India’s martyrs and promises to the families left behind, that no matter what, their loved ones will not have died in vain.

“As we honour our gallant heroes this morning (Monday), forever will be engraved in our collective conscience the unforgettable images of our fearless warriors from the police force, the armed forces and the commandos, who looked death straight in the face and said ‘No, not on my territory’.”

In a synchronised attack Nov 26-29 in Mumbai, ten armed terrorists killed over 170 people, including 14 policemen.

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