Half a dozen men from the Indian Air Force and Navy are among the winners of the gallantry awards for their heroics during the Kerala flood.
The daredevil rescue operations by IAF's Wg Cdr B Prasnath Nair and Sgt Amit Kumar Jha made them sole winners of the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) while four of the seven recipients of the Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) are the individuals who took tremendous risks to rescue people stranded in flood waters. They are Cdr Vijay Varma, Cdr T Anup Kumar and sailors Amit and Paramendra Kumar.
The remaining three recipients of the Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) are Cdr Hari Govind R, Lt Cdr Manu Mishra and Lt Cdr Shirish Shivanth Pavale.
They are among the winners of the 411 gallantry and other defence decorations to Armed Forces personnel and others, approved by the President, on the eve of the 70th Republic Day celebrations.
The awards include one Ashoka Chakra, four Kirti Chakras, 11 Shaurya Chakras, 28 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, three Uttam Yudh Seva Medals, 51 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals, one Bar to Yudh Seva Medal, nine Yudh Seva Medals, two Bar to Vishisht Seva Medals, 120 Vishisht Seva Medals, six Bar to Sena Medals (Gallantry), 103 Sena Medals (Gallantry), seven Nao Sena Medals (Gallantry), two Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry), five Bar to Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty), 35 Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty), nine Nao Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty) and 14 Vayu Sena Medals (Devotion to Duty).
Three of out of four winners of the Kirti Chakra – India's second highest peacetime gallantry award – would receive it posthumously.
Sowar Vijay Kumar from the Armoured Corps, and Constable Rajendra Kumar Nain and Pradip Kumar Panda from 130 battalion of Jammu and Kashmir Police died in counter-terrorism operations in the valley. The fourth winner is Maj Tushar Gauba from the 20th battalion of the Jat Regiment.
The sole winner of the Ashoka Chakra is Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, who shunned militancy in Jammu and Kashmir nearly two decades to join the Indian Army. He would receive it posthumously.
The gallantry award list released by the Defence Ministry triggered a controversy as Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat's too is a recipient of the PVSM – a distinguished service decoration that top military officers get. Gen Rawat is the first army chief since 1978 who did not have the PVSM.
Narendra Modi government picked up Gen Rawat as Chief of th Army Staff in December 2016 superseding two senior officers.