A mother wept, a greatful nation acknowledged one of its heroes. Lt Navdeep Singh, a young army commando who died battling terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, was Thursday posthumously conferred Ashok Chakra, India's highest peacetime gallantry medal, by President Pratibha Patil at the Republic Day celebrations.
As the young officer's father Honorary Lt and Subedar Major Joginder Singh received the award from the president, Navdeep Singh's mother shed tears silently in the visitors' gallery.
Navdeep Singh, who was only in his 20s, was named for the Ashok Chakra along with 367 other bravery and service medals for security personnel Wednesday.
Navdeep Singh, who was a Ghatak (commando) platoon commander of 15 Maratha Light Infantry, was deployed in the high altitude areas along the Line of Control with Pakistan last year.
He killed four terrorists at close range during an ambush Aug 20. In the process, he took a bullet in his head.
But before dying, Navdeep Singh pulled out an injured fellow soldier to safety and continued firing at the terrorists till he fell unconscious due to excessive loss of blood.