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The Indian Navy’s heroes

They may be called Lt Commander Manoranjan Kumar, Lt Commander Kapish Singh Munwal or even Commander Sandeep Singh but each live and die for the other in the Indian Navy.

At the instance when a battery leak fueled a fire in Indian submarine INS Sindhuratna of the Indian Navy off the Mumbai coast during an exercise in the early hours on February 26, 2014, these men aboard the submarine were busy in saving each others lives. On Friday the Indian Navy paid their last respect to Lt Commander Manoranjan Kumar, Lt Commander Kapish Singh Munwal who sacrificed their lives trying to put out the fire while shoving their colleagues to safety away from the smoke filled battery compartment.

While the emergency extinguisher apparatus was trying to put out the fire by spraying, the safety hatch came down trapping these two brave sailors inside the battery compartment filled with toxic gases. They suffocated to death by inhaling the toxic gases only to save the submarine and their colleagues. They were given full military honors and were both second generation navy personnel. The nation has been by the side of their family, friends and the navy during this hour of misfortune.

The selfless act of their Commanding Officer Sandeep Singh is also to be retold to inspire people to act just to complete their responsibilities defying deathly conditions.

He jumped into the fire compartment knowing fully well the surrounding conditions and eminent death just to save his juniors as he was responsible for them. He was taken seriously ill as a result and had been critical when admitted to the hospital many hours after the accident. However he has now been taken off the ventilator and seems to have had a close shave with death. He has also fought courageously against death and expected to back to normal soon enough.

Seven other officers had been critical when they had fallen sick due to inhalation of the toxic fumes aboard the submarine INS Sindhuratna. Sinha known as Sandy is the son of a retired naval commander and son-in-law of a retired rear admiral posted in Mumbai and is the father of two lovely children. Being a part of the naval family he knows the challenges of his job and the kind of sacrifices it entails. Sinha had rushed into the burning compartment 3 of the submarine but had failed to save Kapish Muwal and Manoranjan Kumar. Sinha had then manned the controls personally to bring the submarine up to the water surface. He had then stood till every single of his personnel had climbed to the surface to breathe in fresh air.

Only after ensuring the shutting down of the controls he came to the surface. A board of inquiry has been constituted to look into the causes of the accident in the INS Sindhuratna that will be headed by Rear Admiral S.V. Bhokare, Flag Officer Submarines. Bhokare is currently posted in Visakhapatnam. The navy laid wreaths in memory of Muwal and Kumar at the Western Naval Command where their colleagues were inconsolable. Muwal was cremated in Mumbai while Kumar’s body was flown to hometown Jamshedpur for the last rites.

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