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Ashoka Chakra

Ashoka Chakra ribbon.svg
Ashoka Chakra and its ribbon, the highest peacetime decoration of India
Awarded by India Republic of India
Country India Republic of India
Type Medal
  • Officers, men and women of all ranks of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, of any of the Reserve Forces, of the Territorial Army, Militia and of any other lawfully constituted forces.
  • Members of the Nursing Services of the Armed Forces.
  • Civilian Citizens of either sex in all walks of life and members of Police Forces including Central Para-Military Forces and Railway protection Force.[1]
Awarded for Awarded for most conspicuous bravery, or some act of daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice otherwise than in the face of the enemy.[1]
Status Currently Awarded
Post-nominals AC
Established 1952
First awarded 1952
Last awarded 2014
Next (higher) Param Vir Chakra[2]
Next (lower) Padma Vibhushan[2]

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.

History[edit | edit source]

The medal was originally established on 4 January 1952 as the "Ashoka Chakra, Class I" as the first step of a three-class sequence of non-combatant bravery decorations. In 1967, these decorations were removed from the "class-based" system and renamed as the Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra, and Shaurya Chakra. This is an important point in understanding the independent Indian view of decorations. It would also lead to changes in the Padma Vibhushan series, the distinguished service medal series, the life saving medal series, and the Defence Security Corps medal series.

From 1 February 1999, the central government instituted a monthly stipend for Ashoka Chakra recipients of Rs. 1400. Jammu and Kashmir awarded a cash award of Rs. 1500 (ca. 1960) for recipients of this award.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Obverse: Circular gold gilt, 1-3/8 inches in diameter. In the center, the chakra (wheel) of Ashoka, surrounded by a lotus wreath and with an ornate edge. Suspended by a straight bar suspender. The medal is named on the edge.

Reverse: Blank in the center, with "Ashoka Chakra" in Hindi along the upper edge on the medal and the same name in English along the lower rim. On either side is a lotus design. The center is blank, perhaps with the intent that details of the award be engraved there. There is no indication of the class on the pre-1967 awards, and, in fact, there is no difference between these medals and the post-1967 awards.

Ribbon: 32 mm, dark green with a 2 mm central saffron stripe.

Till date, 63 people have been awarded the "Ashoka Chakra".

Recipients[edit | edit source]

Date Name Notes
2014 Major Mukund Varadarajan of 44th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles (22 Rajput) - Varadarajan was leading a search for militants in Qazipathri in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian district on April 25 when a group of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists fired on his unit. Varadarajan displayed exemplary leadership skills and raw courage under fire, eliminating three members of the terror outfit in a gunfight that lasted for more than 20 hours. Varadarajan and sepoy Vikram Singh from Haryana's Rewari were killed in the exchange of fire.
2013 Inspector KLVSSNV Prasad Babu of Andhra Pradesh Police - Prasad had played a crucial role in gunning down 10 Maoists in the encounter in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh in April 2013. However, while returning to the state along with his team, the Maoists opened fire on an IAF chopper which arrived in Kancharla forests to pick up the Greyhounds personnel. In the melee, Prasad Babu got lost in the forest and the chopper had to take off without him. According to Greyhounds sources, Prasad Babu fought with the Maoists bravely for several hours till his ammunition got exhausted. He was then captured and killed by the left-wing extremists.
2012 Lt. Navdeep Singh of 15 Maratha Light Infantry – LT Navdeep Singh, commander of the Ghatak platoon, was posted on a line of control of a high altitude area. On 20 August 2011 at 0030 Hrs, he received information of terrorist infiltration and decided to attack. In the middle of gunfire, he himself killed three terrorists from close range. He was shot in the head, but he fearlessly carried on and killed the 4th terrorist. He showed great valor and brotherhood while saving his fellow soldier. Despite being injured, he kept on firing till he fainted. He sacrificed his life while carrying out this operation.
2011 Major Laishram Jyotin Singh who was posted at the Indian Embassy in Kabul during 26 January Suicide Attack at the Embassy. When a terrorist killed three perimeter guards and entered the compound firing wildly, he counterattacked with his bare hands and caused a bomb vest worn by a terrorist to explode outside, causing less damage than intended. He was awarded the Ashoka Chakra for extreme bravery in the face of danger.
2010 Havildar Rajesh Kumar of 11 Rajputana Rifles – Havildar Rajesh Kumar, who belonged to the Ghatak team, was on a search mission in the dense forest of Kupwara district of J&K, and during operations killed three terrorists. On 1 August 2009, a Section of the Ghatak team searched the dense forest in Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir, and was subject to intense and indiscriminate firing by terrorists. Havildar Rajesh Kumar, leading the Section, returned the fire and scrambled into the undergrowth to outflank the terrorist. With dogged determination he closed-in around the flank and killed the terrorist. While continuing the search, the team was again engaged by two terrorists positioned upslope. Realizing the danger to the lives of his teammates, Havildar Rajesh Kumar moved to outflank one of the terrorists through a veritable hail of bullets. While closing in, he sustained gunshot wounds in the abdomen. Disregarding the wounds, he shot and killed the second terrorist. Bleeding profusely, he moved to outflank the third terrorist from his blind side and engaged him in fierce hand-to-hand combat, killing the terrorist with the burst of fire, before succumbing to his injuries. Havildar Rajesh Kumar showed unparalleled feat of most conspicuous gallantry, fortitude and the rare spirit of self-sacrifice in fighting the terrorists.
2010 Major Mohit Sharma born in Rohtak, Haryana, brought up in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and commissioned in 5 Madras Regiment in Dec 1999. He later moved to elite 1 Para (Special Forces) was killed in a battle with terrorists in the Hafruda forest in Jammu and Kashmir in March, 2009.
2010 Major D Sreeram Kumar serving with 39 Assam Rifles since March 2007, had eliminated 12 terrorists in counterinsurgency operations in the northeast.
2009 Hemant Karkare Maharashtra ATS chief, died during a battle with terrorists in 2008 Mumbai Terrorist Attack.
2009 Vijay Salaskar Maharastra Police Inspector, died during a battle with terrorists in 2008 Mumbai attacks
2009 Ashok Kamte Maharashtra Additional Commissioner, died during a battle with terrorists in 2008 Mumbai Terrorist Attack. He fired the bullet that hit the terrorist Ajmal Kasab on his arm, causing him to drop his AK-47. Kasab was the lone terrorist captured alive.
2009 Tukaram Ombale (Maharashtra Police assistant sub-inspector) – Around midnight, a wireless message was flashed that two terrorists were moving towards Marine Drive in a car and Ombale immediately positioned barricades to block its passage. As soon the car stopped, one of the terrorists inside the car opened fire and Ombale rushed to the left side of the car and pounced on the second terrorist, Ajmal Kasab to snatch his AK-47 rifle, holding on to the gun despite being shot, until other officers overpowered the terrorist. In the process, he got seriously injured and later succumbed to injuries.
2009 Havaldar Gajender Singh Led his squad in the operation to rescue hostages from the terrorists holed up at Nariman House. After clearing the top floor of the terrorists, he reached the place where the ultras had taken position. As he closed in, the terrorists hurled a grenade injuring him. Undeterred, Gajender Singh kept firing and closing in on the terrorists by exposing himself to the hostile fire. In the act, he injured one of the terrorists and forced others to retreat inside a room. He continued the encounter till he succumbed to injuries.
2009 NSG's Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan A NSG commando with the 51 Special Action Group, he led the commando operation (Operation Black Tornado) launched on 27 November to flush out terrorists from the Taj Mahal hotel. As Unnikrishnan's 10-man team made their way through the hotel, they encountered a set of terrorists holding hostages who opened fire and struck Unnikrishnan's partner Commando Sunil Yadiv. After arranging for Yadav's evacuation, Unnikrishnan chased the terrorists himself as they escaped to another floor of the hotel. In the encounter that followed, he was shot in the back, seriously injured and succumbed to injuries. His comrades recall his final words to them being “Do not come up, I will handle them.” In the operation, Major Unnikrishnan is said to have rescued at least 14 hostages held captive by the terrorists.[3]
2009 Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma Led an anti-terror operation at Batla House in the national capital in September 2008. On 19 September 2008, Sharma received specific information that a suspected person wanted in connection with the serial bomb blasts in Delhi was hiding in a flat in Batla House area of Jamia Nagar. Leading a seven-member team, he quickly reached the identified flat and as soon as he entered, he received the first burst of fire from the terrorists holed up inside. Undaunted, he returned the fire and in the ensuing exchange of fire, two terrorists were killed and one captured, but Sharma succumbed to injuries later.
2009 Col Jojan Thomas of Army's Jat Regiment was serving in Jammu and Kashmir as the Commanding Officer of 45 Rashtriya Rifles when on 22 August 2008, at around 0330 hours, he was informed of terrorist movement. The officer immediately rushed to the area with available troops and soon a fierce firefight ensued. The Colonel eliminated two terrorists from close quarters. In the process, he sustained severe gunshot wounds. In spite of this, he engaged a third terrorist in a fierce hand-to-hand fight before eliminating him. But he later succumbed to bullet injuries.
2009 Army commando Bahadur Singh Bohra In another counter-insurgency operation in Jammu and Kashmir in September, Army Special Forces commando Havildar Bahadur Singh Bohra of 10 Parachute Regiment was the squad commander of an assault team deployed in the Lawanz area. Bohra observed a group of terrorists at around 0615 hours and moved quickly to intercept them. In the process, he came under heavy hostile fire. Undaunted, he charged at the terrorists and killed one. However, he suffered severe gunshot wounds. Refusing evacuation, he continued with the assault and killed two more terrorists at extremely close range. However, he later succumbed to injuries.
2009 Meghalaya cop R. P. Diengdoh -Cop R P Diengdoh was conferred the medal posthumously for his acts of bravery in November 2007, when he joined an operation to neutralize 10 armed militants holed up in the state's jungles. Diengdoh volunteered to lead the police party in the operations against the militants and reached the site the next day just before dawn. The assault team charged into the camp to flush out the militants, who opened heavy fire. Diengdoh boldly returned the fire and shot dead one militant. However, he was hit by a bullet. Unmindful of the grave injury, he continued to lead the team and managed to capture two militants.
2009 Orissa SOG Assistant Commandant Pramod Kumar Satapathy On 15 February 2008, about 500 heavily armed Naxalites carried out simultaneous attacks on police at various locations in and around Bhubaneswar, looting weapons and killing several police personnel. Thereafter, they hid in the nearby jungle. Satapathy, who was training in-charge for SOG, along with a mere 20 police, reached the elevated position taken by the Naxalites inside the jungle and immediately mounted an assault on them. The Naxalites retaliated with heavy fire on the police team and in a fierce encounter lasting for about two hours, Satapathy led the operations, but fell to bullet injuries.
2008 Major Dinesh Raghu Raman Major Raman was commissioned into 19 battalion of the Jat Regiment. He was awarded the Chief of Army Staff Commendation Card in Drass during the Kargil conflict. Posted to 34 Rashtriya Rifles Battalion, he conducted a successful operation “OP Narawar” in June 2007, leading to the elimination of three terrorists. On 2 October, Major Raman deployed his company in a village in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir, where an encounter with terrorists had begun. While closing in on suspected houses, Major Raman heard shouts of a fellow officer (Major K.P. Vinay, awarded the Kirti Chakra posthumously) who had been seriously injured. He crawled towards the injured officer under heavy fire and shifted him and two others to safety. He then took on two terrorists who had caused heavy casualties to the troops and shot both of them dead. The other terrorists fired at Major Raman from another house, causing him injuries that proved fatal.
2007 Capt. Radhakrishnan Nair Harshan of 2 Parachute Regiment, Special Forces
2007 Naib Subedar Chuni Lal VrC, SM of 8 J&K Light Infantry
2007 Col Vasanth Venugopal of 9 Maratha Light Infantry
2004 Lt. Triveni Singh the young officer who lost his life while gunning down two terrorists who had entered the Jammu railway station to commit a massacre. Lt. Triveni Singh headed the army's Quick Reaction Team posted at the station, spotted the two heavily armed Lashkar-e-Tayyiba terrorists forcing their way into the station in battle fatigues. Singh and his 'Ghatak Commandos' reached the spot within 10 minutes and cordoned off the station. Triveni Singh took on the terrorists in a gunfight at close quarters. He faced indiscriminate firing. He succeeded in killing one of them. The second terrorist lobbed a grenade at Singh, who was seriously injured. But even in an injured condition he killed the terrorist. Lt Singh succumbed to his injuries later.
2003 Special Forces Paratrooper Sanjog Chhetri Paratrooper Sanjog Chhetri of 9 PARA (SF) was part of a team tasked for carrying out operations on terrorist location at "Hill Kaka" (J&K) on 22 April 2003. The commandos approached the terrorist hideout and drew heavy automatic fire. Sensing danger for his comrades, Sanjog assaulted the hideout and killed one terrorist. In spite of being wounded and bleeding profusely the young commando kept on assaulting till he shot and killed one more terrorist. By his gallant action, Paratrooper Sanjog Chhetri provided a chance for his comrades to engage the remaining terrorists effectively, but he succumbed to his injuries. The team of commandos, in retaliation, killed all the remaining 13 terrorists. For his brave action Paratrooper Sanjog Chhetri was posthumously awarded the highest peace time gallantry award.
2002 Surinder Singh (Subedar)
2002 Naik Rambeer Singh Tomar
2001 Kamlesh Kumari constable in CRPF
2000 Major Sudhir Kumar Walia On 29 August, Major Sudhir Kumar Walia, with a squad of five commandos, was on a "Search and Destroy" mission in the dense jungle of "Hafruda Forest" in Kupwara district, J&K. The squad suddenly chanced upon a well-camouflaged hideout with 20 terrorists. Maj Sudhir Kumar surged ahead of his squad and taking advantage of the element of surprise, neutralized the sentries and singlehandedly killed four militants. In spite of the grave injuries during this gallant action, which were to prove fatal, the brave officer kept directing his men with his radio set and ultimately ensured that the terrorists were eliminated. This gallant officer went beyond the call of duty and in the highest tradition of the Army and sacrificed his life for the country, for which he was posthumously awarded the highest peace time gallantry award.
1997 Sec Lt. Puneet Nath Dutt
1997 Lt Col Shanti Swaroop Rana
1996 Captain Arjun Singh Jasrotia On 15 September 1995 Captain Jasrotia, SM of 9 PARA (SF), while leading his team in Lolab Valley J&K, came under heavy rocket and small arms fire. In order to extricate his men, this brave officer crawled forward and in spite of being injured gravely and killed one terrorist with his commando knife and neutralized the other terrorist by lobbing grenades. His brave and gallant action gave opportunity for his comrades to take cover and engage the remaining terrorists effectively. In the ensuing firefight the brave officer succumbed to his injuries. However in retaliation the commandos eliminated all remaining terrorists. For his gallant action Captain Arun Jasrotia was posthumously awarded with the highest peace time gallantry award.
1995 Major Rajiv Kumar Joon
1995 Sujjan Singh
1995 Harsh Uday Singh Gaur
1994 N Jaychandran Nair
1993 Rakesh Singh
1992 Sandeep Sankhla
1991 Randhir Prasad Verma Randhir Prasad Verma was an Indian police officer who died while trying to resist a robbery attempt in a bank in Dhanbad. He was posthumously awarded the gallantry award on 26 January 1991. The Government of India also issued a Commemorative postage stamp in his honor in 2004. Randhir Prasad Verma, who joined the Indian Police Service in 1974, had the pride of eliminating the notorious "Matka Gamblers" gang. On the fateful day of 3 January 1991, immediately on being notified about an attempt by dacoits to rob the Hirapur Branch of Bank of India, Dhanbad, he rushed to the spot accompanied by his bodyguard and armed only with a service revolver between the two of them. Preferring not to wait for reinforcements to arrive, which may have given time to the dacoits to escape, he opted to confront them asking them to surrender. The dacoits opened fire on him and fatally wounded him with two gunshots. Despite being seriously wounded, he fired back and killed one and injured another of the three dacoits. Faced with his assault, the third dacoit tried to escape, but was caught by stunned spectators and was subsequently handed over to the police. However, Randhir Prasad Verma succumbed to his injuries. Randhir Prasad Verma set an example for the society by his act of gallantry. He was not intimidated despite being outnumbered by the robbers who were armed with superior weapons. He is survived by his widow, Prof. (Mrs.) Rita Verma and two sons. Mrs. Verma, subsequently joined politics and was elected as Member of Parliament from Dhanbad for four consecutive terms.
1987 Neerja Bhanot Neerja Bhanot was the senior flight purser on the ill-fated Pan Am Flight 73, hijacked as it headed out of Mumbai and landed at Karachi en route to Frankfurt and onward to New York City by four armed terrorists. Despite being tackled, she helped the three-member cockpit crew of pilot, co-pilot and the flight engineer escape. In the following 17-hour ordeal, she hid the passports of the passengers on the flight so that the hijackers could not differentiate between American and Non-American citizens. Eventually, she opened the emergency door, flung a chute and assisted a number of passengers escape from the flight, while she laid down her life shielding three children from bullets fired by the terrorists.
1985 Chhering Mutup
1985 Nirbhay Singh
1985 Bhawani Datt Joshi
1985 Lt. Ram Prakash Roperia
1985 Captain Jasbir Singh Raina
1985 Major Bhukant Misra
1985 Sq Ldr Rakesh Sharma
1984 Gennadi Strekalov
1984 Yury Vasilyevich Malyshev
1981 Brigadier Cyrus Addie Pithawala
1974 Gurunam Singh
1972 Ummed Singh Mahra In one of the most difficult counter-insurgency operation in Nagaland, an insurgent revealed the location of self-styled Brigadier Pavizo and his HQ. A raiding party led Captain Umed Singh Mahra of 19 Raj Rif made a nightlong march negotiating slippery slopes and fast flowing nullahs in the festering Nagaland jungles to surprise the hostiles in the early hours of 6 July 1971. In the ensuing firefight, Capt. Mahra was wounded in the stomach. The officer continued to lead what turned out to be one of the most successful raids in Nagaland, resulting in the capture of large cache of arms, ammunition, and important documents. He then uncomplainingly endured the long journey back before succumbing to his wounds. For his intense display of leadership, endurance and bravery he was awarded the Ashoka Chakra.
1969 Jas Ram Singh On 31 October 1968 at 0430 hrs, his patrol was fired upon by hostiles in Mizoram. This lionhearted officer assaulted the hostiles’ position and killed two and wounded six, and three hostiles surrendered. By his courageous deed of leading his men who were trapped in a difficult situation he set a fine example to his patrol and men.
1962 Kharka Bahadur Linibu
1962 Captain Mani Bahadur Rai for his gallant action against insurgents in Nagaland, where he led a platoon through two hostile positions into the heart of their stronghold and dislodged them.
1958 Eric James Tucker was in command of 'B' Company, 2nd Battalion, The Maratha Light Infantry, op­erating in the Naga Hills. He was assigned the task of opening the line of communication from Chakabama to Phek, a distance of 42 miles, and thereafter to Meluri, a further dis­tance of 20 miles, to destroy hostile concentrations en route, and to establish a post at Meluri. This he successfully achieved on 9 October 1956. He was killed in an ambush laid by the hostiles on 2 August 1957, while proceeding from Khazarni to Kivkhu with a platoon.
1958 Jem Bajirao Sakpal
1957 J R Chitnis
1957 P M Raman
1957 Joginder Singh
1956 Sundar Singh
1952 Flt Lt Suhas Biswas [4] On 3 February 1952, The U. P. Area command of the Indian Army was holding a tactical Exercise in Lucknow. To Witness this Exercise, High ranking Army Officials decided to fly down to the Exercise to observe. The Then GOC-in-C Western Command Lt Gen S. M Shrinagesh (Later COAS), The Quarter Master General Maj-Gen K. S . Thimayya (later COAS), The Chief of General Staff Maj Gen S. P. P. Thorat (later GOC-inC East), The Military Secretary Maj Gen Sarda Nand, Maj Gen Mohinder Singh Chopra and Brig Ajaib Singh boarded the IAF HQ and Communications Flight De Havilland Devon (HW 516) which was being flown by Flt Lt Suhas Biswas. The Devon reached Lucknow and after the exercises were completed, the Officers returned for the return flight to Delhi. The Devon took off at 1800 Hrs and moments after the aircraft took off, the Crew observed the port engine was spewing smoke and soon a fire broke out. The Devon became difficult to control and as the fire kept creeping towards the main fuselage, Biswas, the pilot put the Devon in a dive in an attempt to reduce altitude and attempt a crash landing before the aircraft fuel reserves caught fire and blew up. As the Devon was put into the dive, The Aircraft shuddered in the airflow and The Engine mounting broke away, resulting in the Burning Engine separating from the wing and falling off. Biswas levelled the Aircraft and belly landed successfully at a village near the Sandilla Railway Station. All the occupants walked out of the crashed aircraft unhurt with the pilot being the last to leave. Flt Lt Suhas Biswas awarded the First Ashoka Chakra to the Indian Air Force for the presence of mind, Skill and cool courage in maintaining the Stricken aircraft and saving the lives of many Senior Army Officers. Which included Two Future Army Chiefs and an Army Commander. The Air Force Chief, Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee, had had the passenger chairs removed from the wrecked Devon and presented it individually to each of the survivors of the crash with a Brass Plate mentioning the circumstances of the crash. Flt Lt Biswas died Two Years later when his Dakota crashed in the Niligiri Hills.
1952 Havildar Bachittar Singh Sikh Regiment – 13 September 1948 – Naldrug, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India[5] – In 1948 battalions of the Sikh Regiment were involved in the Hyderabad police action. 2 Sikh were in the Naldurg fort area. Hav. Bachitter Singh leading a platoon saw two vehicles coming from Naldurg and in spite of heavy fire, he ran forward and captured the vehicles and its escorts. Later in the day a well-entrenched Hyderabdi position opened fire with Bren guns on the Sikhs. Hav. Bachittar Singh charged the position and about 20 yards from it was hit in the thigh. He crawled forward and silenced the post by lobbying grenades. Even though wounded he kept on encouraging his men to go forward and destroy other positions. He was p osthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra, becoming the first Indian to receive this gallantry award.
1952 Naik Nar Bahadur Thapa On 15 September 1948, No 2 platoon of A Company, 5th Battalion the 5th Gorkha Rifles[6] was held up on left flank of the Tungabhadra Railway Bridge in Hyderabad by automatic fire from two enemy positions. No sooner the hostile positions were engaged by fire by his section, Naik Bahadur Thapa dashed across 100 yards of open ground under intense enemy fire. He silenced the machine gun post crew with his khukri. In doing so Naik Nar Bahadur Thapa acted with great courage, in complete disregard for his personal safety. By his gallant action, his platoon was able to advance and secure the vital Tungabhadra bridge. In Recognition of his initiative, personal bravery, superior leadership and outstanding devotion to duty in the highest tradition of the Battalion, Naik Nar Bahadur Thapa was awarded India's first Ashoka Chakra.

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