A Militant-Turned Soldier Who Won Ashoka Chakra

In the early 90s, Nazir Ahmad Wani was a young boy who weaved Kashmiri carpets like an expert artisan for a monthly salary of few hundred rupees. Then, armed insurgency broke out in the Kashmir Valley and soon, like most of the villagers of this south Kashmir area, Nazir Ahmad Wani and his friends struggled to find work.

Nazir, instead of becoming a militant like many teenagers those days, joined a pro-government militia led by Javed Ahmad Shah, a notorious, government-backed commander of a private militia, in late 1994 out of his free will. It was the same time when three former militia groups merged and formed Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, a dreaded militia that evoked fear among people for their brazen and often deadly ways. The militia was created to break the back of the militancy. But in 2002, when Ikhwan was disbanded by the state government led by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Nazir was among thousands of Kashmiri’s who struggled to find a livelihood. Two years later, he joined 162 Infantry Battalion of Territorial Army of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry in 2004, like most of his friends.

The citation of the Medal read, “Since his enrolment in the Army, Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, SM, epitomised qualities of a fine soldier. He always volunteered for challenging missions, displaying great courage under adverse conditions, exposing himself to grave danger on numerous occasions in the line of duty. This is evident from the two gallantry awards conferred on him earlier.

Lance Naik Nazir, yet again insisted on being part of the assault team during Operation Batagund launched by 34 Rashtriya Rifles Battalion on 25 Nov 2018 post receipt of credible intelligence regarding presence of six heavily armed terrorists in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir. Tasked to block the most likely escape route, Lance Naik Nazir, moved swiftly with his team to the target house and tactically positioned himself within striking distance. Sensing danger, the terrorists attempted breaching the inner cordon firing indiscriminately and lobbing grenades. Undeterred by the situation, the NCO held ground and eliminated one terrorist in a fierce exchange at close range. The terrorist was later identified as a dreaded district commander of Lashker-e-Taiba.

Thereafter, displaying exemplary soldierly skills, Lance Naik Nazir closed in with the target house under heavy fire and lobbed grenades into a room where another terrorist was hiding. Seeing the foreign terrorist escaping from the window, the NCO encountered him in a hand to hand combat situation. Despite being severely wounded, Lance Naik Nazir eliminated the terrorist. Showing utter disregard to his injury, Lance Naik Nazir continued to engage the remaining terrorists with same ferocity and audacity. He injured yet another terrorist at close range, but was hit again and succumbed to his injuries. For displaying unparalleled bravery and supreme sacrifice in the line of duty, Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, SM is awarded “ASHOK CHAKRA (POSTHUMOUS)”. He is Kashmir’s first Ashok Chakra awardee.  It was love at first sight for Mahajabeen, wife of Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, when the two met at a school in South Kashmir around 15 years back. Nearly one-and-half months after Wani’s death, Mahajabeen, a teacher and mother of two, said, “His immense love for her and fearless persona are a source of motivation for her. “I did not cry when I was told he is no more. There was an inner resolve which did not allow me to cry,” she said after the government announced the Ashoka Chakra. “He always wanted to make his 162/TA Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry battalion proud. For him, duty was supreme. He was a source of inspiration for people in our area and community,” said Mahajabeen, who is in her late 30s. An army goodwill school in the Kashmir Valley was renamed “Shaheed Lance Naik AGS Wuzur” in memory of .Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani.

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