NEW DELHI: Late Lance Naik Nazir Wani, a militant-turned-soldier who got martyred in an anti-terror operation in Kashmir two months back, was on Saturday conferred with the country’s highest peace time gallantry award Ashok Chakra.
President Ramnath Kovind presented the award to Wani’s wife Mahajabeen and his mother during the Republic Day celebrations at the start of the parade down the historic Rajpath here.
The award was presented in the presence of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the Chief Guest at this year’s Republic Day celebrations.
Wani, the first Kashmiri to receive the honour, was chosen for displaying exceptional courage when his unit engaged 6 heavily-armed terrorists on November 25 last year in Hirapur village near Batgund in Kashmir.
Hailing from Cheki Ashmuji area of Kulgam district in Kashmir, Wani was once a militant but he gave up the militancy and joined the Territorial Army in 2004 and was later a part of the Rashtriya Rifles.
On the fateful day, under intense hail of bullets from the terrorists, he eliminated the district commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit and one foreign terrorist in a very daring display of raw courage.
In the gunfight, he was hit multiple times, including in his head but he carried on and injured another terrorist before succumbing to his grievous injuries.
Mahajabeen told ANI on Thursday: "I am proud of my husband for what he has done... I am feeling happy that he has received the award but his loss is irreparable.” She recalled that the last time she had a conversation with her husband was a few hours before the operation in which he lost his life.
Wani had called her to discuss about the well being of the family and disconnected as he had to go for the operation. About the honour, she said she did not know that such an award existed till officials of Wani’s unit came to her village to inform about the government decision.
“Now I want to fulfill his dream of educating my children Athar (20) and Shaid (18) and help them become doctor and engineer,” Mahajabeen added.
Wani was a hero right from the beginning and always served for the peace in his home state of Jammu and Kashmir, said an Army official.
His extraordinarily fearless and courageous personage was reflected in him getting the Sena Medal for gallantry twice in 2007 and 2018. The 2018 Sena Medal was given to him for eliminating a terrorist from a very close distance.
Ashok Chakra is the highest peacetime gallantry award in the country, followed by the Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra, respectively. Four officers and soldiers have received the Kirti Chakra while 12 others have also been awarded the Shaurya Chakra this year.