India celebrates 60th Republic Day, 26/11 martyrs honoured
India's highest peace-time gallantry award, Ashok Chakra was awarded posthumously to Hemant Karkare, the Anti-Terrorists Squad Chief, Additional Commissioner of Mumbai police Ashok Kamte, Encounter specialist Inspector Vijay Salaskar, Asst Sub-Inspector Tukaram Omble, NSG commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and NSG Havaldar Gajender Singh.
Indian President Pratibha Patil unfurled the tricolour and took the salute marching contigents. A multi-layer security ring was placed in the entire area.
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, a 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.
A St Stephens college pass-out, Kamte 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.
Inspector Vijay Salaskar, known as 'Encounter Specialist' died when the vehicle carrying three officers were ambushed by terrorists during 26/11. Salasker 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 Azam Amir Kasav aks Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman, too died a heroic death after being hit by the bullets because he was the first to charge towards Kasav and his associate armed with just a stick.
Major Unnikrishnan led the commando operation launched on Nov 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.
Havaldar 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 fired till he succumbed to the injuries sustained during the fierce encounter.
OneIndia News (With inputs from agencies)