It was sheer grit and determination displayed by Havildar (Hav) 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
Hav Hangpan Dada, fondly called by his comrades as Dada, was born on 2nd October of 1979 in Borduria village in Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh. Hav Dada was a keen sportsman and used to run several kilometers and do 25-30 push-ups every day even as a child. Hav Dada joined the Army and was recruited to the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment on 28 October 1997. Six years later, he then went on to serve with the Assam Regimental Center and joined the 4th Battalion of the Assam Regiment on 24 Jan 2008.
A few years later in 2016, Hav Dada then volunteered to serve with the 35 Rashtriya Rifles engaged in anti-insurgency operations in J & K. A devout Christian, was fond of keeping snakes as pets and had to be evacuated by a helicopter once after he was bitten by one of them. Hav Dada was a soldier par excellence and was equally liked by his peers as well as seniors.
During May 2016, Hav Dada’s unit, 35 RR was deployed in the Naugam sector in J& K. On 25 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 in the night to flush out the terrorists. On the night of 25 May, Hav Dada along with his other comrades led a charge on the hiding terrorists as per the planned operation. After reaching the suspected area, Hav 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. Hav Dada killed two terrorists on the spot in a swift a daring action. On seeing this, the other two terrorists fled and hid behind some boulders. Spotting two terrorists who had hidden behind boulders, Hav Dada lunged at one of them. The two were locked in hand-to-hand combat, slipping and sliding down the hill, till Hav Dada finally neutralized him.
However, the fourth terrorist then sprayed bullets into him. Ignoring his grievous wounds, Hav Dada pinned down the shooter and severely injured him. The terrorist was eventually killed but Hav Dada succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. Hav Dada killed three terrorists in the operation single-handedly and his action led to the elimination of the fourth terrorist. Hav Dada’s 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.
Hav Hangpan Dada is survived by his wife Smt Chasen Lowang Dada, daughter Roukhin, and son Senwang. For the supreme sacrifice made by him while discharging his duties and for displaying raw courage, unflinching grit combined with presence of mind with utter disregard to his personal safety, though bleeding profusely, was conferred the “Ashoka Chakra” posthumously, on the eve of the Independence Day in 2016. The 7-year-old son of martyred Havildar Hangpan Dada – whose wife received Ashok Chakra from President also wants to join army. Hangpan Dada was honoured by the Arunachal Pradesh State Govt with its highest civilian award, Arunachal Ratna, during 2018 Statehood Day celebration. The State Government had also renamed the football and volleyball tournaments for CM’s Trophy as Hangpan Dada Memorial Trophy. Dada’s heroics have been documented in an official documentary released by Indian Army.