President Pratibha Patil has cleared the names of slain former Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, sub-inspector Tukaram Gopal Omble and National Security Guard commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who laid down their lives during the Mumbai terror strikes, for Ashok Chakra, the nation's highest bravery award in peacetime.
A senior Rashtrapati Bhavan official told rediff.com, "All that I can tell you is that she has cleared the file and it has been sent to the Home Ministry."
The three officers, who fell to the bullets of terrorists while participating in the operations to flush out the terrorists from Pakistan, were among the nine names approved for the bravery award, which would be formally announced on January 25, the Republic Day eve, government sources said.
Inspector M C Sharma, a Delhi police encounter specialist who died in the Batla House police operation against Islamic terrorists, was also among the short-listed martyrs for the medal, sources said.
Apart from these four brave hearts, the government has also short-listed Havildar Gajendra Singh Bhist, a 36-year-old NSG commando killed during the Mumbai anti-terror operations at Nariman Point, sources said.
Others reportedly selected for the gallantry medal included Army officer Colonel Jojin Thomas, Orissa police officer T K Satpathy, Havildar Bahadur Singh Vohra and Meghalaya police officer A Diengdoh.
Other Mumbai terror attack martyrs Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte's names were still under consideration of the government for the Ashok Chakra and a decision on them would be taken in a couple of days, sources added.
Additional Inputs: PTI