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SOURCE: PTI

The family of a soldier, who was killed during a gun battle with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir five years ago, has refused to accept the ‘Shaurya Chakra’ gallantry award delivered to their home in Gujarat by post, saying it’s an “insult” to their son Lance Naik Gopal Singh Bhadoriya.

On September 5, Lance Naik Bhadoriya’s father Munim Singh returned a postal courier containing the ‘Shaurya Chakra’, which was awarded to his son posthumously a year after he died in the line of duty in February 2017.

Mr Singh, who lives in the Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad city, demanded that the country’s third-highest peacetime gallantry award be handed over to the family at a ceremony in the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

“The Army can not send the medal by post. This is not only a violation of the protocols but also an insult to a martyr and his family. That is why I have not accepted the parcel containing the medal and returned it saying ‘I can not accept it’,” a visibly upset Mr Singh told news agency PTI.

“Such medals are always conferred at a ceremony held in the Rashtrapati Bhavan on January 26 or August 15 and the entire nation sees the event on TV. If not the President, then the medal is given to the family by a senior Army officer. But, it should never be delivered through courier,” he said.

Lance Naik Bhadoriya was 33 when he died. In 2018, the soldier was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra, the third-highest peacetime gallantry award after the Ashok Chakra and the Kirti Chakra.

He was earlier awarded the “Vishisht Seva Medal” for being part of a National Security Guard (NSG) commando group which was tasked with clearing the Taj Hotel of terrorists during the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.

Since the soldier was separated from his wife in 2011, Mr Singh had knocked on the doors of a city civil court in 2018 to stop his estranged daughter-in-law from claiming the award as well as his service benefits. Though Bhadoriya had separated from his wife, a divorce decree was not granted by the court as he could not attend judicial proceedings due to his duty commitments.

“As the city civil court had put a stay (on case proceedings), the medal was not conferred all these years. Then in September 2021, we won the legal battle as the court ruled the medal and all other service benefits should be handed over to the soldier’s parents and not his estranged wife,” said Mr Singh.

“We then informed Army officials and the office of the Defence Minister about the court order and requested them to hand over the medal and benefits to us. However, instead of calling us at the ceremony (at the Rashtrapati Bhavan), the medal was sent by post,” he said.