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Saroja Kumari — a quiet achiever

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DETERMINED: Despite performing consistently, Major Saroja Kumari has not been rewarded adequately.
DETERMINED: Despite performing consistently, Major Saroja Kumari has not been rewarded adequately.

A. Joseph Antony

Hyderabad: Srikakulam’s known for Karnam Malleswari and as Andhra Pradesh’s source of Spring Thunder or the Naxalbari movement. It’s also home to Saroja Kumari Juthu, a Major in the Indian Army.

Born in Bathupuram, Palasa, she won the gold in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games last year, the first by an Indian woman in the pistol event.

She was also the first lady officer from the State to receive the Sena Medal (SM) —receiving it on Republic Day this year. She also won a silver each in the Commonwealth Championships at Bisleigh in 2001 and the SAF Games in Islamabad, 2004.

Her medal haul on the national and international firmaments must make most cupboards groan—a whopping 91. After joining the Army shooting team in 1994, she participated in 13 Nationals, four National Games and 17 international World Cups. Strangely, awards and rewards have eluded her.

Married to Col. Sushil Kumar of 8 Dogra Regiment and mother of two sons, Dushyant and Vikramaditya, Saroja quietly goes about her task at the Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) range in the picturesque Hyderabad Central University (HCU) campus.

Will another conquest in the forthcoming Military World Games bring her due recognition or will India and A.P. continue to turn the other way?

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