New Delhi: Commandant Chandra Shekar Joshi, a Coast Guard Officer who intercepted a suspicious Pakistani boat which later blew up on December 31, 2014, was awarded the President's Tatrakshak Gallantry Medal by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday.
Commandant Abhay Ambetkar, who coordinated the air-to-surface operations that led to spotting the location of the boat, was also awarded the Tatrakshak Gallantry Medal.
Joshi, who joined ICG in 1997, was commanding Indian Coast Guards Ship (ICGS) Rajratan and was deployed on the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) off the Gujarat coast. The ship was around 170 nautical miles from the spot where the suspicious boat was but proceeded with "maximum speed" to intercept it.
However, the vessel exploded and caught fire before sinking along with four occupants.
Parrikar had then said the "circumstantial evidence" indicated that the Pakistani boat had suspected terror links.
"The current situation in and around the country continues to revolve around complexities and bring forward new challenges. Our security forces require to maintain 24X7 vigil along the land and maritime frontiers of the country. Ensuring maritime security of such a vast expanse, especially in maritime domains calls for seamless energy, coordination and pro-active approach from agencies," Parrikar said at the function.
According to the citation with the award, "The boat was unlit and expressed hostile intent by trying to evade and taking advantage of the dark hours and weather. Despite repeated calls on VHF Channel 16, loud hailer and indication by search light, the crew of the suspected boat was defiant and refused to surrender. However, persistent efforts by the Officer and his team led to successful interception of the suspect boat."
"The crew set the suspect boat on fire. Subsequently, the boat was engulfed in massive fire following an explosion. The boat finally sank at about 0633 hours on Jan 1 2015.
Thereafter the ship assumed extensive search operations for locating survivors," the citation read.
When asked by reporters whether it was a "terror" boat, Joshi said, "It was terror related, which is why it exploded." Parrikar also presented awards to 32 other officers for their gallantry or services....