Complete Set of 2 nos of postage stamps on the Ashoka Chakra Winners : Neerja Bhanot and Randhir Prasad Verma :
Issued by India
Issued on Oct 8, 2004
Issued for : Department of Posts is proud to issue a set of two commemorative postage stamps in honour of Neerja Bhanot and Randhir Prasad Verma.
Picture : Neerja Bhanot and R. P. Verma.
Designed by : Sankha Samanta
Type : Se–tenant pair of 2 Stamps, Mint Condition
Watermark : No
Colour : Multicoloured
Denomination : 500 & 500 Paise
Perforation : 13 x 13
Stamps Printed : 0.6 Million in sheets of 14 pairs
Printing Process : Photogravure
Printers : India Security Press, Nashik
- Ashoka Chakra is awarded for the most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent valour of self-sacrifice other than in the face of the enemy. The decoration may be awarded posthumously.
- The medal was originally established in 1952 as the ‘Ashoka Chakra Class I’ as the first step of a three class sequence of non-combatant bravery decorations. In 1967, these decorations were removed from the ‘class–based’ system and renamed as the Ashoka Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra. Officers, men on different operations, civilians, airline crew and even Russian Cosmonauts were awarded this medal in due recognition of their gallantry.
- Indeed, Ashoka Chakra awardees live in the hearts of millions. Their acts of bravery bedazzle, leaving an afterglow forever.
- Courage, Commitment and Compassion, these three simple words personify Neerja Bhanot who was recognised internationally as ‘the heroine of the hijack’.
- Neerja Bhanot, daughter of Shri Harish Bhanot was born on 7 September 1963, in Chandigarh. She did her early schooling at Sacred Heart, Chandigarh before going to Mumbai where she studied at Bombay Scottish and St. Xavier’s College. She joined the Pan American World Airways on January 16, 1986. Her leadership qualities were quickly recognised and she was elevated to the position of ‘Purser’ on April 1, 1986. On September 5, 1986, Neerja Bhanot was in the Pan American Airways flight from Bombay to New York via Karachi as Senior Flight Purser, when the plane was hijacked at Karachi Airport by four heavily armed hijackers. Nearly 400 passengers and crew members, were held at gunpoint for over 17 hours.
- Showing exemplary courage, she identified herself to the terrorists as the crew member in charge of the aircraft. She also comforted the passengers, especially the elderly and small children.
- When it became apparent that the hijackers wanted to execute Americans, she hid their passports.
- At the end, the hijackers opened fire and set of explosives. Acting quickly, Neerja opened the emergency doors and helped a number of passengers to escape. While shielding three children from a hail of bullets, she was fatally wounded by the gunfire. She laid down her life displaying the most conspicuous bravery in the face of grave adversity.
- She is the only Indian to have been conferred with the ‘Heroism Award of the Flight Safety Foundation’.
- Randhir Prasad Verma was a person who made a glorious history in a short life span and made his country proud by displaying extraordinary courage, bravery and dedication to his duty.
- He was born on 3rd February 1952 in Saharsha district of Bihar. His qualities of enthusiasm and dedication started showing up when he was studying in St. John’s School, Ranchi and Patna College, Patna. He was extremely fond of sports and made a mark in cricket also.
- He joined the Indian Police Services in 1974. He eliminated the gang of notorious ‘Matka Gamblers’. He also smashed the gang of another notorious criminal, Kamdev Singh, in the initial training period of his police service.
- He was sent to the turbulent Singhbhoom district which was in the grip of the Kolhan movement.
- On the fateful day of 3rd January 1991, Randhir Prasad Verma, posted in Dhanbad as the Superintendent of Police, learnt about an attempted robbery in the Hirapur branch of the Bank of India. He rushed to the spot accompanied only by his bodyguards, and entered the building. He met with a hail of gunfire. He took out his service revolver and asked the robbers to surrender. One of them fired upon him with his automatic weapon. Shri Verma was badly wounded, still he managed to shoot one down. He was again fired upon which proved fatal. Showing exceptional dare-devilry and courage, Randhir Prasad Verma laid down his life. The robbers, after killing him, tried to escape but were caught by the stunned spectators and two of them were lynched by the mob.
- By his act of gallantry, Shri Randhir Prasad Verma set an example for the society. By not being intimidated despite being outnumbered by the robbers who possessed superior weapons, he displayed that it’s the quality and motivation of the man that decides the course of history.
- Text: Based on material given by the proponent.