In a fascinating story of turn-around, Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, who shunned militancy in Jammu and Kashmir nearly two decades to join the Indian Army, was posthumously awarded India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashoka Chakra.
Thirty-eight years old Lance Naik is the first Army man from the trouble-torn Kashmir valley to receive the Ashoka Chakra.
His widow Mrs Mahajabeen will receive the award from the President Ram Nath Kovind on the Republic Day.
Apart from his wife he is survived by two sons Athar (20) and Shaid (18).
After quitting militancy, Wani joined the Army’s 162 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, at a young age. Later he served in the 34 Rashtriya Rifles.
His last operation was on November 25, when Lance Naik Wani took part in a counter-terrorist operation against six terrorists in Hirapur village near Batgund in Kashmir.
“Tasked to block the most likely escape route, Lance Naik Wani moved swiftly with his team to the target house and tactically positioned himself within striking distance. Sensing danger, the terrorists attempted breaching the inner cordon firing indiscriminately and lobbing grenades. Undeterred Wani held ground and eliminated one hardcore terrorist in a fierce exchange at close range,” says a notification issued by the President Secretariat.
“The person he eliminated was the district commander of the Lashkar-e-Toiba,” says an Indian Army statement.
“Subsequently in a display of exemplary soldierly skill, the Lance Naik closed in under heavy fire and lobbed grenades into a room where another terrorist was hiding. Sensing that a foreign terrorist was escaping from the window, he encountered him in a hand-to-hand combat situation. Despite being severely wounded, he eliminated the terrorist,” adds the notification from the President Secretariat.
“Showing utter disregard to his injury, Wani continued to engage the remaining terrorists with same ferocity and audacity. He injured yet another terrorist at close range, but was hit again and succumbed to his injuries,” it adds.
“He was a hero right from the beginning and always served for the peace in his home state of Jammu and Kashmir. His extraordinarily fearless and courageous personage was reflected in getting the Sena Medal for gallantry twice in 2007 and 2018. Throughout his active life he always willingly faced grave potential threats and was a source of inspiration for others,” said an Indian Army official.
The 2018 Sena Medal was given for eliminating one terrorist from a very close distance.
A resident of Cheki Ashmuji village of Kulgam district in Jammu and Kashmir, Wani came from a humble background and worked for the benefit of the underprivileged section of society. A genial man he was mindful of the problems of his village and the surrounding area.
“Lance Naik Wani carried out several acts of selfless service in the area he belonged to. His heroic efforts during operations will be a beacon of light for the youth of Kashmir,” notes the Army statement.
Wani's selection for India's highest peacetime gallantry award comes at a time when terrorists in J&K targeted several local men who joined the Army and Police force in an effort to discourage the locals from joining the Indian government's security agencies.