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    INDIA -- Garaj Star


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    Reverse - Blank, presumably intended for naming.

    To quote from a forthcoming book :rolleyes:

    Awarded to personnel of the National Security Guards who took part in ?Operation Black Thunder? in the Punjab in 1988.

    Established: By No.79-Pres./89 of 6 September 1989 with effect from 3 March 1988.

    General Appearance: A five-pointed bronze star with beveled rays, 40 mm in diameter.

    Obverse: In the centre, a commando holding a rifle with a bolt of lightning running diagonally across his chest, within a circular band, 2 mm in width and 20 mm in diameter at the outer edges. On the band, the inscription ?GARAJ STAR? and ??? The band is broken at the top by the head of the commando. The medal is struck in extremely low relief and of unusually coarse design.

    Reverse: Plain, presumably intended for naming. No description is given in the gazette.

    Ribbon: 32 mm black silk, with a 5-mm wide silver-white stripe running diagonally across from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. The ribbon for ribbon bar wear ? which, in any case, is difficult to visualize as a suspension ribbon ? has been manufactured from what seems to be plasticized paper. It is important to note that although no official order of wearing is indicated for this award, it has been habitually worn as the final medal in ribbon bar groups, following the nine-year long service medal. The medal ribbon seems never to have been produced, leaving us only with the ribbon for ribbon-bar wear (as is shown above).

    Suspension: Suspended from a ring attached to the point of the uppermost ray of the star.

    Naming: Presumably intended to named on the reverse.

    Miniature: A miniature was authorized, but has not been observed.

    Background: The star was awarded to personnel of the National Security Guards (NSG) who took part in counter-militancy operations in the Punjab from 3 March 1988 to 22 May 1988. A minimum of one day?s service in the operational zone was required to qualify for the star. Armed forces personnel are not authorized to wear the medal. ?Op Black Thunder II?, was the code name given to the cordon and assault operation against Sikh separatists holed up in the holiest Sikh shrine ? the Golden Temple ? at Amritsar (Black Thunder I was the futile raid on the temple on 30 April 1986). In no other case has a separate medal or star been sanctioned for any active operations against Indian citizens. Counter-insurgency operations in the north-east were covered by the grant of clasps to the General Service Medal 1947 (1035), and later, the Samanya Seva Medal 1965 (1036). Similar subsequent operations in Kashmir, Punjab, and Assam have been covered by the grant of the clasp ?Suraksha? (?Security?) to the Special Service Medal (1037.203). The Ministry of Defence appears to have been quite sensitive to issues of policy in this regard. The institution of this medal at the behest of the Home Ministry presents an unprecedented departure from policy of the government. It was strongly opposed by the armed forces, which rightly argued that as compared to Op Black Thunder, Op Blue Star (June 1984) was a much bigger operation in terms of degree of opposition, troops employed, and casualties suffered. The question of awarding a general medal for Op Blue Star had been considered and then turned down at the level of the Chiefs of Staff after taking various (and perhaps obvious) considerations into account. However, the Garaj Star was instituted in spite of the objections of the defence establishment, and marked a critical turning point in the manner in which the honours system of the Indian Republic was structured and would henceforth evolve. The progressively feeble military response was blatantly disregarded by an increasingly powerful Home Ministry, which usurped the time-honoured usages of the Indian armed forces and supplanted them as potent symbols of state patronage in the police and paramiltary establishments under its command.

    For those not familiar with India?s paramilitary forces, the NSG was raised as a federal contingency force in 1984 to meet the emerging threats of terrorism in the country. It has a strength of approximately 7,500 elite personnel, trained in high-risk counter-terrorist and counter-hijack operations.

    As I said, only four specimens were ever made, and the medal was never awarded. But the ribbon is seen in ribbon bars. For example:

    Edited by Ed_Haynes
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    Guest Rick Research


    this was authorized... but not manufactured

    has not been awarded (because there aren't any to hand out) and yet is (partially) worn anyway (by those who feel self-entitled, sans paperwork?)...

    for events of almost 20 years ago? :speechless1:

    I'm trying to think of an Official Award--anywhere--that was CREATED and then... never heard of again.

    The only other example I can think of are the bars for naval actions for the WW1 British War Medal, rarely seen on minis. :speechless1:

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    The strained inter-ministry and national politics surrounding this award and the events it represents are a big part of the story. The medal was never manufactured (beyond four specimens) but awards were made and the ribbon is worn. But even today, it would take a brave person to wear the ribbon in the Punjab (if anyone knew what it meant).

    Set aside the fact that it was an incredibly ugly medal with an impossible ribbon.

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    So Edji , is the medal shown here a specimen or a copy? which brave soul is making them if it was the latter? any story behind getting this one?

    Hi Jaganji,

    This is one of the four that were manufactured at the Mint (according to the cover letter, and the Mint should be ashamed of the quality). This particular one was sent to the Ministry of Defence Medal Office. They kept it, but as it was non-military (Home Ministry production, remember), they didn't pay much attention to it and didn't know/remember what it was when discovered there by a friend. They "gifted" it to the United Service Institution of India, where it now resides on display in their medal collection.

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    Actually, quality aside, the design is a tad better than some of the modern medals we see around to day....

    Could it be, that due to the lack of a ribbon, some enterprising soul made one to display with the medal? If it had been produced and awarded, i suppose a regular qaulity ribbon would have been used ?

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    Could it be, that due to the lack of a ribbon, some enterprising soul made one to display with the medal? If it had been produced and awarded, i suppose a regular qaulity ribbon would have been used ?

    Actually, just an adaptation of the plasticised ribbon used for ribbon bars. As close as we'll ever get to whatever the original notification intended.

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