Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
This article is about the saga of bravery and gallantry of a proud son of Arunachal Pradesh, Havildar Hangpan Dada, Ashok Chakra (Posthumous).
Many Arunachalese may not know about the bravery and sacrifice of this proud son of Arunachal Pradesh.
Hangpan Dada was born on 2nd October, 1979 in Borduria village of Tirap district. He was a keen sportsman and used to run several kilometres even as a child. During his young days, he saved his childhood friend from drowning in a river. Hangpan Dada joined the Army and joined the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment on 28 October 1997. After some years, he was transferred to the 4th Battalion of Assam Regiment. Later, on his request, in May 2016, he was transferred to 35 Rashtriya Rifles deployed in Kupwara district, Jammu and Kashmir.
In May 2016, Havildar Dada’s unit was deployed in Naugam sector in Jammu & Kashmir. On 26 May 2016, his unit had received information from intelligence sources about the presence of terrorists in the Naugam sector. A decision was taken to launch a search and destroy operation to flush out the terrorists. In the night of 26 May, Havildar Dada along with his comrades led a charge on the hiding terrorists.
After reaching the suspected area, Havildar Dada along with his team spotted the movement of terrorists and launched a well coordinated attack on them. A fierce gun-battle ensued that went on for over 24 hours.
Havildar Dada killed two terrorists on the spot in a swift and daring action. On seeing this, the other two terrorists fled and hid behind some boulders. Spotting the two terrorists, Havildar Dada lunged at one of them. The two were locked in hand-to-hand combat, slipping and sliding down the hill, till Havildar Dada finally neutralized him.
However, the fourth terrorist sprayed bullets into him. Ignoring his grievous wounds, he pinned down the shooter and severely injured him. The terrorist was eventually killed, but Havildar Dada succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. Havildar Dada killed three terrorists in the operation single-handedly and his action led to elimination of the fourth terrorist. His action of eliminating three terrorists in an engagement at close quarters and injuring a fourth one, in disregard to his personal safety, foiled the infiltration bid and ensured the safety of his comrades.
Considering his gallant action, bravery and supreme sacrifice in the service of the nation, Havildar Hangpan Dada was awarded the highest peacetime gallantry award of the nation, the Ashok Chakra, posthumously.
Havildar Hangpan Dada is survived by his wife, Chasen Lowang and two children. A memorial honouring him has been erected at his village. In his honour, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh has renamed the annual chief minister’s trophy on football and volleyball as the Hangpan Dada Memorial Trophy.
Havildar Hangpan Dada is a pride of Arunachal Pradesh and India. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)