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Once a Militant, Now a Legend in Fauji Circles: This Lance Naik is the First Kashmiri to Get Ashok Chakra

Over the years, Nazir Wani was involved in 17 big encounters and received the Sena Medal twice for his unwavering commitment to India.

Shreya Dhoundial | CNN-News18

Updated:January 25, 2019, 7:56 AM IST
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New Delhi: In 48 hours from now, as India celebrates its 70th Republic Day, Lance Naik Nazir Wani will become the first Kashmiri to be honoured with the nation’s highest peace time gallantry award, the Ashok Chakra.

The Indian Army soldier was once an insurgent himself, who later became part of the Indian sponsored counter-insurgency militia in Kashmir – the Ikhwanis - and went on to join the forces in 2004. The 39 year-old died in the line of duty on November 25, 2018.

Sources in the Army gave News18 details of the last operation that Wani was part of. It was a fierce anti-terror operation in Shopian's Batagund village, in which six terrorists were cordoned off, they said.

Wani and his team were responsible for blocking all escape routes of the terrorists. The Lakshkar-e-Taiba terrorists breached the inner cordon, firing and lobbing grenades.

Undeterred, Wani held his ground and after a fierce close range exchange, killed one terrorist. Then he moved to a house where another terrorist was hiding and engaged him in hand-to-hand combat. He sustained multiple bullet injuries but managed to kill the second terrorist as well. All six terrorists were killed in that operation.

Wani too lost his life.

lance naik2

The Army had shared this heartbreaking photograph of an army officer consoling the father of Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani after his death.

Army sources described Lance Naik Wani as “a legend in the fauji circles”. An active insurgent in the 1990's, he surrendered, joined the government sponsored militia and finally was absorbed in the Territorial Army in 2004.

His battalion 162 TA draws men from the now-disbanded Ikhwani militia who were instrumental in information gathering for Army’s Rashtriya Rifles unit that conducts anti-terror operations.

Over the years, Lance Naik Wani was involved in 17 big encounters and received the Sena Medal twice for his unwavering commitment to India. It couldn't have been easy for the Kulgam native given that terrorists have been selectively targeting Kashmiri soldiers, policemen and their families with alarming frequency.

"Lance Naik Wani epitomised qualities of a fine soldier. He always volunteered for challenging missions, displaying great courage under adverse circumstances, exposing himself to grave danger in the line of duty" reads the citation issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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