Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Most Arunachalees know about Ashok Chakra late Hangpan Dada. There are also many patriots and heroes from Arunachal who have displayed extraordinary courage and bravery fighting terrorists for our nation. The heroic deeds of these Arunachalee soldiers are unknown to many readers.
One such story is that of Colonel Hemonto Panging, Sena Medal and bar, who hails from Namsing village, near Pasighat, in East Siang district. He has accounted for the elimination of countless terrorists over a period of 10 years in Jammu & Kashmir. A couple of notable operations are narrated below.
1993. In the mountains of Doda in Jammu & Kashmir, above the river Chenab, 20-25 terrorists were operating from a hideout in the mountains. On getting information about them, the Indian Army launched operations. While the main body launched operations from below, a small team led by Captain Hemonto Panging infiltrated behind the terrorists and attacked the terrorists. Rushing the terrorists, Captain H Panging and his team shot down three terrorists in the initial onslaught. On being further attacked, the remaining terrorists jumped into a nearby gorge. Captain H Panging and his team ran after the terrorists into the gorge, and shot down another seven terrorists, which included two foreign terrorists. In 1993, this operation was a major success for the Army in Doda. For this operation, Capt H Panging was awarded his first Sena Medal (Gallantry).
1997. In a retaliatory cross-border action, Major Hemonto Panging led a team of the Indian Army Special Forces tasked with neutralizing terrorists on a launch pad adjacent to a village in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
The team crossed the Line of Control and attacked the launch pad located about 4-5 kms inside POK. In this night operation, the Special Forces team neutralized about 20 terrorists. The entire operation lasted about one hour. For this daring cross-border operation inside enemy territory, Major H Panging was awarded the second Sena Medal (Gallantry).
1997. Major Hemonto was also awarded commendation by the chief of Army staff for capturing the first shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile held by terrorists in Bafliaz, Kashmir. During this operation, Major H Panging and his team also killed five terrorists, thereby preventing the possible surface-to-air missile strike on own aircraft. His team also suffered one fatal casualty, and two of his jawans were injured in this operation.
These inspirational stories about Arunachalee soldiers fighting terrorists and defending the nation in faraway places must be told and narrated to the entire nation. More such stories of bravery and honour are waiting to be told. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)