Q1 Who were praised with the ‘Ashok Chakra’ Award at the 66th Republic Day?
Ans. Major Mukund Varadarajan and Naik Neeraj Kumar Singh, the two army personnel, were awarded the highest peacetime military honour, the Ashok Chakra, given by President Pranab Mukherjee. The awards were received by their wives at the 66th Republic Day celebrations. Both the army men had laid down their lives while battling groups of militants in separate operations in Shopian and Kupwara districts of Kashmir.
Q2 Why they are awarded ‘Ashok Chakra’?
Ans. In April 2014, Major Mukund Varadarajan who was an officer in the Rajput Regiment of the Indian Army had killed three terrorists in an encounter in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir. While in August 2014, Naik Neeraj Singh was leading a search operation in general area Gurdaji of Kupwara district, he died after heavy fire from terrorists.
About Ashok Chakra
The Ashoka Chakra (alternative spelling: Ashok Chakra) is India’s highest peacetime military decoration awarded for valor, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the battlefield. It is the peace time equivalent of the Param Vir Chakra, and 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. The decoration may be awarded either to military or civilian personnel and may be awarded posthumously. It replaced the British George Cross.
Flt Lt Suhas Biswas was the first Indian Air Force officer to be awarded the Ashoka Chakra. Subsequent awards of the Ashoka Chakra are recognized by a bar to the medal ribbon. A recipient can be awarded the Kirti Chakra or Shaurya Chakra in addition for separate acts of gallantry.