New Delhi: Major Mukund Varadarajan and Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh were Monday posthumously awarded the nation’s highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra, at the Republic Day parade. Both of them laid down their lives while fighting heavily-armed terrorists in separate gun-battles in Jammu and Kashmir last year. Their widows received the award from President Pranab Mukherjee. Varadarajan, of the army’s 44 Rashtriya Rifles, died last April year while leading an anti-terrorist operation in a village in Shopian district.
A severely Varadarajan continued fighting the enemy in the operation that resulted in elimination of three top-ranked Hizbul Mujaheddin terrorists. He later succumbed to his injuries. Singh, also from Rashtriya Rifles, got killed when he came under heavy fire from terrorists while on a search operation in the state’s Kupwara district Aug 24, 2014. A total of 374 gallantry and other defence decorations to armed forces personnel have been announced on the occasion of the 66th Republic Day.
These include an Ashoka Chakra (to Singh as Varadarajan’s award had been announced on Independence Day last year), three Kirti Chakras, 12 Shaurya Chakras, 48 Sena Medals (Gallantry), two 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 Bars to Vishisht Seva Medals and 124 Vishisht Seva Medals.