Pathankot NSG martyr Lt Col Niranjan gets Shaurya Chakra on Independence Day
Pathankot martyr Lt Col Niranjan E K has been honoured with the Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peacetime gallantry medal of the country, on the eve of the 70th Independence Day.
Niranjan, an officer of the Army's Corps of Engineer, was part of the special NSG commandos unit that was rushed to the IAF base in Punjab after four terrorists entered the high-security military facility on the intervening night of January 1-2.
He was the head of NSG's bomb disposal unit who was killed while sanitising a terrorist's body during the Pathankot air base terror attack in January.
Niranjan's lungs got punctured due to the impact of the blast of a grenade that was kept in the pocket of a slain terrorist and the officer died before being taken to hospital.
NSG had said it lost the experienced and brilliant counter-IED officer to a deadly booby trap as the terrorists had used an "innovative technique" whose antidote was not included in the Standard Operating Procedure of the 'black cat' commandos force.
NSG Director General R C Tayal, had maintained that Niranjan, an experienced and highly trained Commanding Officer of the Bomb Disposal and Detection Unit, had followed all laid down SOPs while sanitising the bodies of the four terrorists, killed in the attack on IAF base on January 3.
Niranjan was probably the only officer who had a wide-range of experience in conducting back-to-back anti-sabotage and sanitisation checks on live bombs, including defusing IEDs found in Patna and Bodh Gaya in Bihar, Bangalore and Burdwan in West Bengal.
The DG had said a grenade that took the FBI-trained officer's life was concealed very "cleverly" by the terrorists.
The brave officer had sanitised two bodies and was working on the third when the fatal blast claimed his life.
The Pathankot attack claimed the lives of seven security personnel while four terrorists were killed by NSG and other security personnel.
While the NSG has maintained six terrorists were involved in the attack, including two in the airmen billet which they brought down using heavy explosives, according to the NIA, it so far has proof of presence of only four militants whose bodies were later recovered.
President today approved 82 Gallantry Awards to armed forces personnel and members of paramilitary forces which include one Ashok Chakra, 14 Shaurya Chakras, 63 Sena Medals, two Nau Sena Medals and two Vayu Sena Medals.
Havildar Hangpan Dada honoured with Ashok Chakra posthumously
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, was today awarded the Ashok Chakra.
He was honoured posthumously, with the government announcing the highest award to an army man during peace-time operations today 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.
(With PTI inputs)