New Delhi, Apr 11 (UNI) Standing in a single file, they turned up smartly when their names were called following a citation highlighting their courage in the face of a deadly enemy attack on the morning of July 5, 2005.
Nine Central Reserve Police (CRP) men were decorated with Prime Minister's Police medal for gallantry by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil here to mark the 'Shaurya Diwas' (day of valour) celebrations of the world's largest para military force.
They had played an important role in foiling a fidayeen attack on the makeshift 'Ram Lalla' temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
The Uttar Pradesh Police, the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and CRP were deployed to protect the site. While the UP government has rewarded its brave men, the CRP selected the nine for the police medal (gallantry) for their extraordinary courage. The medals were announced on Republic Day of 2006.
The nine -- Yogendra Singh, the then second in command, Head Constable Khayali Ram, Constables A S Ali Gouri Shanker, Samarjit Singh Pinjari Jehangir R T Kohle, J N Saikia and Arjun Yadav were part of the 33rd battalion assigned to protect the makeshift temple premises. All of them have since been given one promotion. While Yogendra Singh is a commandant now, Khayali Ram is a sub-inspector.
The rest were promoted to the rank of head constables.
While at least one of them was managing a picket, two others were part of a team assigned to man the 'isolation cordon. The rest formed part of the quick reaction team (QRT) which mounted a counter-offensive against the five Lashkar-e-Toybba (LeT) militants who stromed the site on a Tuesday morning.
The terrorists had selected Tuesday for the attack as the makeshift temple is teeming with devotees. ''The crowd ensured that they reach the site easily...more people mean more casulties and a bigger media attention,'' the UP Home department had said after the attack.
All the five terrorists were shot down in the ensuing gunfight with security forces, while one woman died in the bomb blast triggered by the LeT fidayeen to breach the cordon wall. Five security personnel suffered injuries.
The LeT had reportedly entered India through Nepal. They posed as pilgrims to Ayodhya and boarded a Tata Sumo at Akbarpur near the Kichaucha village in Faizabad. At Faizabad they abandoned the Sumo and hired a jeep driven by one Rehan Alam. According to a statement by the driver, the militants visited the Ram Temple at Ayodhya where they prayed, possibly to reinforce that they indeed were pilgrims.
The militants then drove the jeep into the Ram Janmabhumi and forced the driver out of the vehicle, banging the jeep against the security cordon. At around 0900 hrs they triggered a blast to breach the cordon fence.
Firing indiscriminately, the attackers entered Sita Rasoi.
Returning the gunfire, the security personnel killed all five militants in a gunfight that lasted for over an hour. All the terrorists died less than 100 meters from the site.
UNI NAB AKJ HT1510