Havildar Hangpan Dada from 4 Assam Regiment received the Ashok Chakra posthumously on Thursday on the eve of 68th Republic Day. While the award was received by his wife, a recent video profiled Dada, who hailed from Arunachal Pradesh, and showed how Dada acted as an example for all the soldiers to come.
The story of Havildar Dada shows the sacrifices the Indian soldiers go through all for the sake of the country. An account of the bravery of Havildar Dada, the video also contains interview of his friends and family and them recalling him, for the person he was.
Born on October 2, 1979, in Borduria village, near Khonsa District in Arunachal Pradesh, as his loved ones recalled, he was a fun-spirited person. His elder brother Laphang Dada says Hangpan was mischievous and had used to be really active. ‘He used to climb trees, get fruits from up there and eat it with his friends’, he said. The priest, Father Pradeep of Don Bosco Church in Borduria had all good things to say about Havildar Hangpan. According to him, he met Dada more than 10 times and everyday he arrived, he saw Dada already praying at the altar.
Somhang Lamra, a childhood friend of Hangpan could not stop emphasising how he owed his life to Hangpan. He narrated an incident when he almost drowned but was saved by Hangpan at the last moment. He says, ” I am here in front of you because of Hangpan…I am still alive because of Hangpan Dada.”
Havildar Dada left behind his wife and 2 children when he lost his life in an encounter with terrorists attempting to infiltrate into India. His wife Chasen Lowan recalled how talkative he was and always explaining something or other to the people of the village. “He really enjoyed discussions” she added.
Laphang Dada said, “He was on the right path.” Stating how physically fit he was, he said during the time when the Army organised a recruitment rally in Khonsa and it was there that he was recruited. “Always look forward, never look down” , said his elder brother. Father Pradeep said that Hangpan told him he was really happy with his work. Havildar Hangpan reportedly told the priest to pray for him as he was going to Jammu and Kashmir.
In 2016, Havildar Hangpan Dada was posted to 35 Rashtriya Rifles and was assigned in the Kupwara district of Kashmir. This area lies pretty close to the Line of Control and the soldiers here maintain strict vigil at all times.
On 26th may 2016, according to Major Amirtha Raj, one of the soldiers spotted suspicious movement on the Shamshabari Range at around 6 a.m. and informed authority. This suspicious movement was later confirmed to be of 4 terrorists who were entering the Indian territory. It was then that the Army intercepted, in which Havildar Dada strategically killed two of the four terrorists in the Operation named Sabu Dada.
Later in the day, encouraged by Havildar Hangpan, the soldiers carried on their search for the two militants who were not found yet. Finally after spotting them, again very strategically Dada went ahead and killed one of the militant but was soon shot down by the last militant alive. That night, his wife Chasen Lowan received a call and got the news of her husband’s martyrdom.
When being asked what he wants to become when he grows up, Dada’s son responded saying he wants to be in the army when he grows up.