5 from Pune among 40 to finally receive their Ďrealí medals

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Six years after he risked his life by driving an LPG-laden tanker that had caught fire out of a filling station in Mangalwar Peth and saved many lives, the President's medal, announced for driver Dnyaneshwar Khedekar will finally reach his family. This time, it's for 'real'.

They will be decorated with their medals at a function at Rajbhavan in Mumbai next week.

In 2008, a President's medal was announced Khedekar, who had in 2006 driven the flaming tanker out of the filling station. Two weeks after the medal was announced, Khedekar died after his fire tender overturned.

In 2010, the family was given what they thought was the medal, as told to them by the fire department. It turned out to be a memento and not the medal.

In 2012, Newsline reported the matter following which Maharashtra fire services secretary M V Deshmukh promised that the process to give the real medals to recipients will be expedited.

Since 2006, along with the family of Khedekar -he was in his early 50s when he died - 39 fire brigade personnel and officers across Maharashtra had been waiting for their President's medals announced for them. Five medals are for Pune fire personnel.

"All the five of us were given the same mementos. The authorities kept telling them they were the actual medals. Even if we concede that local officers were not aware whether these were genuine medals or not, we cannot ignore the fact that the medals were not real," said one of the fireman who will also get a medal.

"More than others, we felt it was an insult to Khedekar who had died in line of duty," said an officers who, too, will receive a medal.

When Newsline first reported this, fire chief Prashant Ranpise had claimed the medals had come to them from the state government and they thought they were the actual medals, leading to the confusion.

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