Havildar Hangpang Dada, AC


Soldier with unflinching courage and grit (1979-2016)

Soldier with unflinching courage and grit (1979-2016)
Havildar Hangpang Dada was born in Borduria village of Trap District in Arunachal Pradesh, on 2 October 1979. He joined 3 Parachute Battalion on 28 October 1997. He was transferred to Assam Regiment and joined 4 Assam on 24 January 2008. He was posted to 35 Rashtriya Rifles in March at his own request, as he wanted to serve on the front line.

Rashtriya Rifles is a force composed of personnel from all the states, and is committed to counter-insurgency operations. He was stationed at the 13,000 feet high Shamsabari Range in North Kashmir near the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. The annual snow fall in the place is about 20 feet. It is avalanche prone and remains cut off from the world for more than six months a year. The nearest road head is five hours away, and the network is erratic. Most of the time, infiltration occurs when the weather gets warm and the snow starts melting, exposing boulders, sometimes as big as a room. Maintenance of morale in such area calls for superb qualities of leadership.

The post is usually commanded by a JCO.. Dada had a pleasant disposition and led by example. He was affectionately addressed as Dada by his teammates. He was in-charge due to confidence in his tactical skills and high state of physical proficiency. He always volunteered for any task, big or small. He did not care about rank or risk. He would take the initiative to communicate with team members even in the presence of senior officers. The officers appreciated his commitment. While serving with 4 Assam, he was often the first one to check for homemade explosive devices and homemade bombs. He was the first choice for patrols and ambushes. The officers liked to interact with him, and for this reason he was made in-charge of the mess.

He had been serving at this post for more than six months when on the morning of 26 May, he and his team observed some suspicious looking men moving about in the area. Four armed militants had crossed the ceasefire line and were trying to infiltrate into the area of his post. He waited patiently for them to come close enough. Opening fire from a distance would have driven them back, but he wanted to capture or eliminate them. His initial burst of fire killed two militants, and the others took cover behind big boulders. Dada charged at them and shot the third militant before he could take cover. He was hit by a bullet in the neck, but he continued to charge and wounded the fourth terrorist. His teammates closed in and killed the last intruder. Even in death, Dada was holding on to his AK-47 weapon.

Dada passed away on 27 May 2016. He is survived by his wife Chasen Lawang, daughter Roukhin and son Senwang. He had displayed raw courage, unflinching grit and presence of mind by charging at the heavily armed terrorists. His timely action saved the lives of his comrades and pinned down the intruders. He was awarded the Ashok Chakra posthumously.

His body was taken to his village where he was buried with full military honours. The Governor, J.P. Rajkhowa said that the death of Dada reminds all of the sacrifices made by the people of Arunachal for the security of the nation. A large number of people were present at the funeral to convey their regards and appreciation of his heroic deed. Chief Minister Kalikho Pul who was present at the ceremony deeply mourned the demise of Hangpang Dada and expressed his sincere solidarity to the bereaved family and to the Army for the loss of their brave man. He announced ex-gratia grant of Rs. 20 lakhs to the family. He directed the district administration to erect a memorial as a mark of respect to the brave soldier. The Chief Minister also decided to name a government institution or a public infrastructure after him so that he would be immortalised forever.

Brigadier Suresh Chandra Sharma (retd.)