Havildar Hangpan Dada of Assam Regiment will be posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, the country’s highest peacetime gallantry award, for killing three infiltrating terrorists in the Nowgam sector of Kashmir Valley on May 26.
Havildar Dada, who belonged to Arunachal Pradesh, had shot dead two terrorists in a bold action at a height of 12,500 feet, and killed one more terrorist in hand-to-hand combat before succumbing to injuries from the burst fired by a fourth terrorist.
Dada, as he was fondly called by his comrades, was born on Gandhi Jayanti in 1979 in Borduria village of Arunachal’s Tirap district. At the age of 18, he joined the 3rd Battalion of the Army’s Parachute Regiment and was subsequently transferred to the 4th Battalion of the Assam Regiment in 2008.
He had volunteered to serve with the 35 Rashtriya Rifles at Nowgam Sector in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir, where he was commanding a post.
On the night of May 26, 2016, Havildar Dada along with his section was tasked to chase and trap fleeing terrorists. Moving swiftly in the snow-bound high-altitude terrain, he blocked the escape route of the terrorists and surprised them.
In the ensuing firefight, when his section was pinned down by heavy and accurate fire from the terrorists, Dada moved to a flank disregarding his own safety. He killed two terrorists at close quarters and, despite being grievously injured in the exchange of fire, went after the remaining terrorists. He killed the third terrorist in hand-to-hand combat and injured the fourth one.
Dada’s action not only foiled the infiltration bid, but also ensured the safety of his section. He was later brought down by his team members, after which he breathed his last.
A devout Christian, Dada also conducted heavily subscribed Sunday sermons for the men in the unit. He did the same when he was on leave in Arunachal Pradesh.
He was fond of keeping snakes as pets and had to be evacuated by a helicopter once, after he was twice bitten by one of them.
Dada is survived by his wife, Chasen Lowang Dada, an employee of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and their two children, aged 7 and 11 years.