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It was sheer grit and determination displayed by Havildar Hangpan Dada, who killed four intruding terrorists before laying down his life at the height of 13,000 feet in the harsh and icy Himalayan range of North Kashmir, that won him the Ashok Chakra.
He was honoured posthumously, with the government announcing the highest award to an army man during peace-time operations Monday on the eve of the Independence Day.
36-year-old Dada, who laid down his life for the country on May 27 this year, valiantly fought in the treacherous Shamsabari range in North Kashmir eliminating four heavily-armed terrorists who had infiltrated into North Kashmir from Pak-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).
Hailing from Boduria village in far-flung Arunachal Pradesh, the Havildar, who was popularly known as ‘Dada’ among his team, was posted at the high mountain range since late last year. Enrolled in the Assam Regiment of the Army in 1997, Dada was posted with the 35 Rashtriya Rifles, a force carved out for counter-insurgency operations.
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 them in a fierce encounter that went on for over 24 hours. Taking the enemy head-on, he charged at the spot where terrorists were holed up and killed two terrorists on the spot and later the third one after a hand-to-hand scuffle as they slid down the hill towards the Line of Control.
Dada was badly injured in the encounter as the terrorists who crossed over from PoK had a slight height advantage. He displayed raw courage, unflinching grit, presence of mind and with utter disregard to his personal safety and despite bleeding profusely, discharged his duties and made supreme sacrifice for the nation.
The presence of mind of Dada, who is survived by his wife Chasen Lowang, 10-year-old daughter Roukhin and six-year-old son Senwang, saved the lives of his team members who came under heavy fire from the terrorists.