Siachen braveheart loses battle for life

Siachen braveheart loses battle for life

Siachen avalanche survivor Lance Naik Hanmanthappa Koppad breathed his last on Thursday morning after battling for his life for two days at the Army’s Research & Referral (R&R) hospital in New Delhi.

Six members of the Dharwad soldier’s family, including mother Basamma, wife Mahadevi and two-year-old daughter Nethra, were by his side during the last moments.

The ominous signs were on the wall in the morning. “His circulatory shock is now refractory to all drugs in maximum permissible doses and his kidneys remain non-functional,” the medical bulletin stated.  Hanmanthappa remained extremely critical with worsening multiple organ dysfunction, it pointed out. “His pneumonia has worsened and the blood clotting disorder shows no sign of reversal.  He has slipped into a deeper state of coma,” the bulletin added.

Within hours of the morning medical bulletin that chronicled his deteriorating health condition, an Army official confirmed his demise at 11:45 am.

Condoling the soldier’s death, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “He leaves us sad and devastated. RIP Lance Naik Hanmanthappa. The soldier in you remains immortal. Proud that martyrs like you served India.” The body was kept at the Brar Square in Delhi cantonment where Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and others paid their tributes.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah received the mortal remains of Hanmanthappa at Hubballi airport at 10:30 pm. He announced a compensation of Rs 25 lakh, one site, four acres of land and a government job to a family member of each of the three soldiers who lost their lives at Siachen. The funeral will be held at Betadur village in Dharwad district on Friday.

Hanamanthappa and nine other soldiers were guarding the world’s highest helipad, Sonam, at 19,600 feet on the Siachen glacier when they were hit by an avalanche. The men from 19 Madras regiment went down under an 1 km wide and 600 meter high wall of ice.

The Karnataka soldier was the only one who survived despite being trapped under ice for six days, thanks to an air conduit. The rescue efforts accelerated after the Army received a radio signal a day later, suggesting at least one person was alive under the snow.

Since April 1984, India has lost 869 men in Siachen, largely due to the treacherous weather and terrain. India has spent more than Rs 7,500 crore on military operations there in the last four years.

In comparison, the Pakistan army, which operates at much lower altitudes, lost 213 soldiers between 2003 and 2010. In 2012 alone, 130 Pakistani soldiers were killed in an avalanche.
Grief engulfs Betadur

A pall of gloom descended on Betadur village in Kundgol taluk of Dharwad district as news of Lance Naik Hanmanthappa Koppad’s demise started trickling in.


Prayers at the village temple and mosque were stopped, and the national flag outside the gram panchayat office was brought to half mast.

“We had great hopes on Hanmanthappa, a born fighter who kept death away for six days. But god had different thoughts,” said Basappa Mahadevappa Sherivad, a Madras 19 regiment solider and a resident of Kundgol taluk, who is now on leave.

Describing Hanmanthappa as a man of few words, Basappa said the Siachen braveheart always wanted to join the Army. Though he was rejected several times, Hanmanthappa did not lose hope and continued to attend recruitment camps. He finally made it to the Madras 19 Regiment 14 years ago.
 

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