New Delhi: While the Indian Army and paramilitary forces have been busy guarding India's borders on the western and eastern fronts, putting up a stout resistance to terrorists and insurgents, the daredevils of the Indian Navy have risked their lives to carry out rescue operations during natural disasters. 

Captain (TS) P Rajkumar is one such braveheart, who has shown that the Navy is adept not just in fighting wars, but providing humanitarian relief. He risked his life twice to undertake rescue missions. He has been presented the Shaurya Chakra for his bravery and valour by President Ram Nath Kovind.

When severe cyclonic storm Ockhi struck the southern coast of India in November-December 2017, causing widespread damage, Captain Rajkumar and his crew flew sorties from Thiruvananthapuram throughout the day, undertaking search and rescue operations.

While disembarking the survivors at Thiruvananthapuram, a team member spotted a fisherman drifting away. Without caring for his own safety, Captain Rajkumar decided to fly on the stormy night to save the fisherman caught in the raging sea.

According to the officials, the mission was a life-threatening one as neither the helicopter nor the crew was equipped with any night vision device. About 25 minutes into the search, the survivor was seen grasping a capsized boat. With his vast experience and piloting skills, Captain Rajkumar brought the helicopter to hover at 25 feet above the sea on a pitch dark night, with heavy swell, zero visibility and with no night vision aids.

Several attempts were made to position the rescue strop over the survivor; however, the survivor continued to cling onto the capsized boat. At this juncture, Captain Rajkumar took a very bold decision. He lowered a diver into the water. Having done so, Captain Rajkumar maintained an extremely difficult manual hover for almost 30 minutes, with the helicopter being subjected to extreme weather conditions.

Captain Rajkumar displayed courage, fortitude, valour and undeterred commitment to save human life in the face of danger.

Rajkumar had also played a heroic role during the Kerala floods last year, when Captain Rajkumar, flying a B42 chopper, manoeuvred his helicopter and landed on a rooftop to rescue 26 people. His team also rescued an 80-year-old woman who was bedridden.

Having winched four people during the Kerala operation, lifting another 22 was a major task, and the crew took a call of going for a low hover to embark all those stranded there. All the stranded people were rescued and taken to the INS Garuda naval base in Kochi.