New Delhi: The Government of India Thursday announced the names of 152 police personnel, including 28 women officers, who have been awarded the ‘Union Home Minister’s Medal for Excellence in Investigation’ for 2021.
Rakesh Balwal, Superintendent of Police, National Investigation Agency, who unraveled the 2019 Pulwama terror attack case, in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force were killed, is among the awardees.
M. Harsha Vardhan, an Additional Commissioner of Police in the Arunachal Pradesh Police, has also been awarded for the probe into the Arunachal “cash-for-job” Staff Selection Board scam, in which 19 people were charge-sheeted.
These 152 personnel are posted across agencies through the length and breadth of the country.
Among the awardees, 15 are from the Central Bureau of Investigation, 11 each from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra Police, 10 from Uttar Pradesh Police, nine each from Kerala and Rajasthan Police, eight from Tamil Nadu Police, seven from Bihar Police, six each from Gujarat, Karnataka and Delhi Police, and five from NIA.
The rest are from the other states and union territories.
According to a government official, the award was constituted in 2018 with the objective to “promote high professional standards of investigation of crime and to recognise such excellence in investigation by investigating officers”.
The award, the official said, has “encouraged officers”. “It is always good to appreciate and reward hard work and that is what this medal does. It is not just encouraging for officers who toil to gather evidence, but also satisfying when their efforts are appreciated,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
What the officers say
Speaking to ThePrint, Rakesh Balwal said the Pulwama probe was one of the most important investigations of his career.
“The investigation was heading to a dead end for one year and we kept working to find that one piece of evidence that would crack open the case for us. There were too many theories doing the rounds, also Jaish-e-Mohammed and Pakistan did not want the truth to come out. It was one of the most difficult and important investigations of my career,” he said.
M. Harsha Vardhan, from Arunachal Pradesh police, said investigating the recruitment scam and doing it right was “extremely satisfying as a police officer”.
“That investigation relied heavily upon technical evidence. We found that the candidates who bribed board officials were asked to leave their answer sheets (OR sheets) blank, which would be later filled in with correct answers to get them a job,” he said.
“After we cracked the case and arrested officials, the youngsters who were sitting for these exams felt that justice was done and that was extremely satisfying,” he said.