A Kashmiri soldier who died fighting Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives two months ago was honored with the Ashok Chakra, the country's highest peace-time gallantry award, at the Republic Day parade today.
Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani's wife, a teacher and mother of two, received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind in a poignant moment. Mahajabeen was accompanied by the soldier's mother. He is the first Kashmiri to be conferred the Ashoka Chakra.
Lance Naik Wani, 38, was part of an operation against six terrorists in Hirapur villager, near Kashmir's Batagund, on November 25 when his team came under attack. He stormed the house where the terrorists were hiding, killing an LeT district commander and a foreign terrorist before being hit by bullets. The soldier also managed to injure a third terrorist before he was taken to a military hospital, where he died.
"In an unparalleled saga of sacrifice, Lance Naik Wani prevented escape of the terrorists from the target house and made a huge contribution in neutralisation of six hardcore terrorists, in the process laying down his life upholding the highest tradition of the Indian Army," the award citation read.
The soldier's body was draped in the Tricolour and brought back to his village, where it was handed over to his family. He was buried amid a 21-gun salute at his village on November 26. Many military personnel and local residents were present at his funeral.
Lance Naik Wani, from Cheki Ashmuji in Kulgam district, was part of a terrorist group in the early nineties before joining the counter-insurgency group Ikhwan. He joined the army's 162 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army/ Home and Hearth), Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, in 2004.
A photo of his grieving father being consoled by an army officer was widely shared and moved many on the internet. "You are not alone, an Indian Army officer to father of a braveheart," the army had tweeted.
Lance Naik Wani had received the Sena Medal for gallantry on two occasions - 2007 and 2018 - during the course of his military career. His unit usually participated in anti-terrorist efforts in collaboration with the Rashtriya Rifles in Kashmir.