Raipur, Jan 28 (PTI) Shivaji Sodhi was busy with a routine training exercise at the 4th battalion of Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) on the outskirts of Raipur on Friday evening when his sister telephoned to inform him that their father head constable Narayan Sodhi has been awarded Kirti Chakra posthumously.
It was a solemn moment filled with pride for Shivaji Sodhi, who joined the state police as constable on compassionate grounds six months ago, and is currently undergoing training.
He was just 17 when his father Narayan Sodhi, a head constable in the Chhattisgarh police's District Reserve Guard (DRG) unit, was killed in an ambush by Maoists in Bijapur district in 2021.
Two more police personnel — sub-inspector Deepak Bhardwaj and head constable Shrawan Kashyap — who were killed in the same incident, have also been awarded Kirti Chakra for displaying exemplary courage while fighting Naxalites.
Bhardwaj and Sodhi were attached to the DRG — the state's frontline anti-Naxalites force, while Kashyap was part of the Special Task Force (STF).
"My father is my hero and I feel proud. I shared the news with other trainees and friends," Shivaji told PTI over phone.
Sodhi was a native of Punoor village in Awapalli area of Bijapur district, which comes under Bastar division. His family currently lives in Bijapur town.
Sodhi was the eldest of five sons and his three brothers are also serving in the police in Bijapur.
"I always wanted to be a policeman like my father and uncles and serve my motherland Bastar," said Shivaji, who quit studies after Class 10.
Shivaji's elder sister Sukriya, 22, said she got a call about the announcement of the award from a local journalist on Friday.
"Though no award can be greater than my father's martyrdom, the entire family is happy that the son of Bastar has got such an honour for his sacrifice," she said.
Sukriya, who is a final year student of Bachelor of Science (BSc) at a college in Bijapur, said her mother remains unwell due to an abdominal ailment and she left for Chennai for treatment on January 26.
Sukriya takes care of her two younger sisters in the absence of her mother.
The family of martyred sub-inspector Deepak Bhardwaj turned nostalgic on learning about the gallantry award.
His father Radhelal, a government school teacher, said, "I am proud of the fact that I am a martyr's father. I don't shed tears for him because it needs courage and valour to do what he has done. It is really a proud moment for me and the entire village." The Bhardwaj family hails from Pihrid village in the newly-formed Sakti district.
Deepak had joined the service in 2013 and got married in 2020. The couple did not have a child.
"After Deepak's death, his wife moved to her maternal home and then never contacted us," Radhelal said.
Another Kirti Chakra awardee Shrawan Kashyap hailed from Baniyagaon village in Nagarnar area of Bastar district.
The trio was among 22 security personnel killed in the Maoist ambush between Jonaguda and Tekulgudem villages in Bijapur district on April 3, 2021.
Talking to PTI, Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) Sundarraj P said the honour will serve as the guiding light for thousands of brave soldiers, who are fighting against Naxalites and are committed for peace and development of the Bastar region.
"It is unfortunate that we lost our brave soldiers in the incident, but their gallant act has been recognised by bestowing Kirti Chakra on them posthumously," he said.
Earlier, two policemen from the state were awarded Kirti Chakra, one of them posthumously in 2010 and 2015, he said.
This is for the first time that DRG personnel have been conferred with the honour posthumously for their sacrifice, the official added. PTI COR TKP ARU NP NP