India’s unsung hero: Mitali Madhumita, first woman officer to win Sena award for gallantry
Without bothering too much about her personal safety, unarmed Mitali Madhumita, then on a United Nations' mission in Kabul, rushed to save lives buried under the debris when the Indian embassy in Kabul suffered a terror attack on February 26, 2011.
Had she wanted she could have easily looked the other way and allowed local security agencies take charge of the rescue operations. Her brave act helped save scores of lives of those grievously injured in the attack.
For her valiant act, Mitali was conferred with the Sena Medal, the very first awarded to a woman army officer who went beyond the call of duty and helped save lives.
The 41-year-old joined the army under the short service commission (SSC) that allows an officer to serve for 5-15 years. However, she declined permanent commission (PC) offered to her in September 2010 for personal reasons. Madhumita was also posted in sensitive areas like Jammu-Kashmir and the northeast of the Indian state.
Being a short service commission officer requested the army for a permanent commission but the Ministry of Defence refused to accept her request, Madhumita appealed the Ministry of Defence's decision not to give her permanent commission before the Armed Forces Tribunal in March 2014. The Tribunal found her request had merit and in February 2015 directed the Ministry of Defence to reinstate her.
However the Ministry of Defence appealed against the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal in the Supreme court of India stating that Madhumita had enlisted in the army on a short service commission. In 2016 Supreme court of India rejected the Ministry of Defence's plea against granting her a permanent commission in the Indian army.
The Army may not have resolute to allow women combat roles but Major Mitali Madhusmita has made history by becoming the first woman officer to win a Sena Medal for bravery.