Home Minister breaks protocol to acknowledge disabled soldier, pins gallantry medal
BSF constable Godhraj Meena was seated among the rest of the attendees until his name was called out. Nervous and stumbling, this brave soldier, who suffered 85 percent disability after militants' bullets hit him during an attack in J&K's Udhampur in 2014, walked up on the ramp to receive his gallantry award. As his footsteps inched closer to the dignitaries, something unusual happened. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was distributing the awards to the soldiers, not only pinned the medal on Godhraj's chest but also hugged the constable.
In a rare gesture, Singh broke protocol to acknowledge the soldier who was attacked close to the ‘narsu nalah’ area in Udhampur during heavy gunfire, said an Indian Express report. The 44-year-old trooper was on guard duty that day. With one bullet having pierced through his jaw, Godhraj has been unable to speak properly since the incident.
Walking down the aisle, the constable received thunderous applause from the officials and jawans. The stadium cheered in all might when the Home Minister pinned the gallantry medal on his chest. BSF officials said that as per protocol, the Home Minister, after pinning the medal and handing over the citation, has to shake hands with the awardee, who then salutes him and moves ahead.
The trooper's citation said he was on guard duty on the bus and his bravery, presence of mind, and accurate fire kept the attackers at bay. This, in turn, stopped the militants from attacking the 30 others onboard the bus. The report further added that,
What we saw today is rare, very rare. This is only in very special cases like that of Meena who has suffered 85 percent disability after the attack. He is not able to talk and walk properly but despite this he dons his uniform with pride, a senior officer said.
Godhraj is now deputed for conducting administrative duties. At the ceremony, constable Subhendu Roy, driver Daljit Singh, and constable Rocky were awarded the ‘Shaurya Chakra’, said a Zee News report.