NEW DELHI: Havildar Hangpan Dada, who killed four intruding terrorists before laying down his life at a height of 13,000 feet in the harsh and icy Himalayan range of North Kashmir, has been bestowed with the Ashok Chakra, the country’s highest peace-time army award.
And Lt Col Niranjan E K, head of the NSG’s bomb disposal unit who was killed while sanitising a terrorist’s body during the Pathankot air base terror attack in January, was honoured with the Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peacetime gallantry medal of the country, on the eve of the 70th Independence Day.
Havildar Hangpan Dada and Lt Col Niranjan were among the 82 Gallantry Awards to armed forces personnel and members of Paramilitary forces, which were approved by the President Pranab Mukerjee on the eve of Independence Day.
Hailing from Boduria village in far-flung Arunachal Pradesh, the 36-year old Havildar, who was popularly known as ‘Dada’ among his team, was posted with 35 Rashtriya Rifles. In the last week of May, he along with his team spotted the movement of terrorists in the area and lost no time in engaging in a fierce encounter that went on for over 24 hours. Taking the enemy head-on, Dada charged at the spot where terrorists were holed up and killed two terrorists and later a third after a hand-to-hand scuffle as they slid down the hill towards the LoC. A fourth terrorist was also killed by him. Dada was injured in the encounter as the terrorists who crossed over from PoK had a slight height advantage.
Lt Colonel Niranjan, an officer of the Army’s Corps of Engineers, was part of the special NSG commandos unit that was rushed to the IAF base in Punjab after four terrorists entered the high-security military facility on the intervening night of January 1 and 2. The NSG had said it lost the experienced and brilliant counter-IED officer to a deadly booby trap as the terrorists had used an “innovative technique” whose antidote was not included in the Standard Operating Procedure of the ‘black cat’ commandos force. Niranjan’s lungs got punctured due to the impact of the blast of a grenade that was kept in the pocket of a slain terrorist and the officer died before being taken to hospital.
On the eve of Independence Day, President Pranab Mukherjee approved 82 Gallantry Awards to Armed Forces Personnel and members of Paramilitary Forces which includes one Ashok Chakra, 14 Shaurya Chakras, 63 Sena Medals (Gallantry), two Nao Sena Medals (Gallantry) and two Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry).