Havildar Hangpan Dada of the 35th Rashtriya Rifles was posted in Jammu & Kashmir. He was posthumously awarded Ashok Chakra, India’s highest peacetime military decoration. He was martyred on May 26, 2016.
Hangpan Dada was born on October 2, 1979 at Borduria village of Tirap district, Arunachal Pradesh, India. He belongs to the Nocte tribe. Dada was the youngest son of Sanwang Dada and Toijin Dada. He had two older brothers, Laphang Dada and Nokron Dada.
On March 1, 2004, Hangpan Dada married Chasen Lowang, also a native of Borduria. Together they had two children, Senwang Dada and Roankhin Dada. Dada did his schooling from Borduria Higher Secondary School.
Hangpan Dada was a religious man, and followed Christianity. His wife told Nocte Digest that, the last words that Dada said to his family was to “always walk with God and pray.”
Father Pradeep, a priest from his native place said, “I might have met Dada more than ten times. He would come for the mass. Before we come, he is already in the church. Kneeling down and praying.”
Hangpan Dada was an athletic person from the start. As a child, he used to climb trees to pluck fruits and then distribute them among his friends. During his childhood, Dada even saved his friend Somhang Lamra from drowning.
While in military service, Dada used to visit his family once or twice in a year, for 14 or 20 days only. When he was at home, Dada spent most of his time playing with his children. He also loved to go for wishing with his friends.
Dada planned to open a restaurant after retiring from the military service. He loved pork boiled with bamboo shoots.
Hangpan Dada joined the army at the age of 18. Initially, he served in the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment of the Indian Army from October 28.1997 to 2005.
In 2005, Dada was transferred to the Assam Regimental Center, and on 24 January 2008, he joined the 4th Battalion of the Assam Regiment of the Indian Army. He then requested a transfer to a Rashtriya Rifles battalion on operations in Kupwara district, Jammu & Kashmir.
Upon his request, Dada was posted to 35th Rashtriya Rifles in May 2016, the unit which he was serving when he was martyred. Kupwara is located near the LoC (Line of Control) and thus, it is a suitable place for the militants to infiltrate.
The 35th Rashtriya Rifles were stationed in the Shamshabari Range, Jammu and Kashmir. It had four posts, namely, the Headquarter, Observation Post, Sabu Post and Marsari Post. Hangpan Dada was the Commander of Sabu Post.
On May 26, 2016, Sepoy J.N. Baite received intel that four terrorists are trying to infiltrate into Shamshabari Range via Marsari Post. The militants were trying to reach Sabu Post by crossing the gorge, called Mira Naar, between the posts. Two teams were dispatched to cordon the area under the command of Subedar Kurung Anal and Naik Najibur, respectively.
After receiving the news of infiltration, Hangpan Dada and his team also moved up of the Sabu Post to block the most likely route of escape in the Mira Naar.
On the night of May 26, 2016, while establishing a stop along with his team at 12,500 feet, Dada led a charge on the hiding terrorists. He along with his team spotted the movement of the terrorists in the area and engaged them in fierce encounter that went on for over 24 hours.
Dada charged at the place where the terrorists were hiding, and killed two on the spot. He killed the third terrorist in a hand-to-hand scuffle as they slid down the hill towards the Line of Control. The fourth terrorist fired a sudden burst of automatic fire at Dada. He received multiple gunshots. Ignoring his grievous wounds, Dada pinned downed the shooter and severely injured him. The terrorist was eventually killed.
Later that night, Dada succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. His actions foiled the infiltration bid and ensured the safety of his comrades.
For his supreme sacrifice, Havildar Hangpan Dada was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, India’s highest peacetime military decoration. He is the 81st recipient of the Ashok Chakra. Chasen Lowang, Dada’s wife, was handed over the award by President Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of India’s Republic Day, 26 January 2017 at New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other national and international figures were also present there.
Watch the award ceremony!
During the celebration of the 32nd Statehood Day of Arunachal Pradesh on 20 February 2018, Governor Dr. BD Mishra, in the presence of Chief Minister Pema Khandu, gave away the highest award of the state, Arunachal Ratna to Ashok Chakra awardee Lt. Havildar Hangpan Dada. Dada’s wife, Chasen Lowang received the award on his behalf.
On 26th May 2018, the memorial of Martyr Havildar Hangpan Dada, Ashok Chakra (P), was inaugurated by Chowna Mein, Deputy Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, in the presence of Major General Gajinder Singh, General Officer Commander of 2 Mountain Division and the legislators of Tirap district.
On 5 December 2018, Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, visited the memorial of Martyr Hav. Hangpan Dada at Borduria in Tirap district. He assured an initial fund of Rs. 2 Crore for the development of the memorial.
Watch the video tribute to Dada!
Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, renamed the annual football and volleyball (men & women) tournaments for Chief Minister’s Trophy as Hangpan Dada Memorial Trophy on 22 November 2016.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu kicked off the first match in the presence of Former Home Minister, James Lowangcha Wanglat.
On 20 April 2020, Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, inaugurated Hangpan Dada Subansiri Bridge over Subansiri river of Upper Subansiri District. The inauguration was one of its kind because it was done through video conferencing due to the COVID-19 national lockdown. He lauded the efforts of BRO (Border Roads Organisation) in completing the bridge’s reconstruction work during lockdown following all safety guidelines. The bridge is 430 feet long and is a strategic line of communication along Indo-Chinese border. It also provides unhindered movement towards Indo-Tibet border.
On 17 November 2016, Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs (India) dedicated Hangpan Dada Administrative Block to Martyr Hav. Hangpan Dada at the headquarters of Assam Regiment in Shillong, Meghalaya. The programme was also attended by Dada’s wife
On 21 April 2017, Martyr Hangpan Dada found a place of permanence in the hallowed Eden Gardens as the Cricket Association of Bengal named one blocks of the stadium in his honour - Hangpan Dada Stand. Three more martyrs were honoured too namely Lt. Col. Dhan Singh Thapa, Col. NJ Nair and Subedar Joginder Singh.
A three time Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) from Arunachal East Parliamentary Constituency, Wangcha Rajkumar was a dynamic leader of the Nocte tribe and Arunachal Pradesh. He was assassinated on 23 December 2007.