Date of Birth : 01 May 1988
Birth Place : Mumbai
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Unit: INAS 310
Date of Martyrdom: March 24, 2015
The Indian Navy Dornier that crashed during a night sortie on 24th March 2015 was being flown by a competent and experienced team comprising Lt Kiran Shekhawat, co-pilot Lt Abhinav Nagori and Commander Nikhil Joshi. Lt Kiran was operating in a combat role as an observer in the tactical sorties flown over the ocean for tracking and engaging hostile ships violating the country’s maritime boundaries. Her body and that of the co-pilot Lt Abhinav Nagori were recovered two days after the crash, while the pilot Commander Nikhil Joshi was rescued by a fisherman. The wreckage of the Dornier was found about 60 m under the sea at the south-west of Goa coast. The body of Lieutenant Shekhawat was found inside the fuselage of the aircraft. Lt Kiran Shekhawat was a brave and a committed soldier who became the first Naval woman officer to die in harness. Lt Kiran Shekhawat will always be remembered for her service to the nation and her story will continue to inspire future generations of India.
A tribute by her father Hony Lt Vijender Singh Shekhawat on the 4th anniversary of her martyrdom:
It has been four years since my daughter, Kiran attained martyrdom, but she still shines in our lives, true to her name “Kiran” meaning “Sunray” and illuminates our home. A lovable child right from her childhood, Kiran was liked by one and all in the neighborhood. On the outward, she had a very cheerful disposition but also had resoluteness and toughness of a soldier from inside. Her soldierly qualities came to the fore in the later part of her life.
As a daughter’s father, I treated her with kid gloves initially but my perception about her began to change after she cleared the Service Selection Board (SSB) and got selected to join the Indian Navy. During her initial training, I was worried about her tough training schedule and wondered how she would cope with it. But when she returned from her training and I was looking for a porter on the railway station to carry her luggage, she was all ready in no time with four bags and said, “Chalo” without waiting for any help. Her confidence coupled with the disarming smile filled me with pride and happiness.
During her first posting, I happened to meet her Commanding Officer, who was all praise for her and told me, “Your daughter is professionally very competent and stands well above her contemporaries”. My eyes welled up with tears of delight and I thanked God for blessing me with a daughter like Kiran. I realized that day that she was cut out for bigger things in life.
However, destiny had something else in store for her and she was martyred in an air crash on 24th Mar 2015 and became the first woman officer of Indian Navy to die in harness. The air crash besides Lt Kiran Shekhawat also claimed the life of Lt Abhinav Nagori. I salute and pay my respect to Lt Abhinav Nagori too, for his supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation. My daughter, Kiran showed how a daughter could be an epitome of courage and be a soldier that the nation could be proud of. The takeaway from Kiran’s story—the parents should never underestimate the capabilities of their daughters, as given the right exposure and support they could become shining stars and pride of the nation like “Kiran”.