When journalists like Burkha Dutt, refer to terrorists as ‘misguided youth’ and the students of JNU shout ‘Azadi azadi’ and try to demonize Indian Army, we must always remember the story of Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, who even though in his early youth went on a wrong path, soon realized his purpose of his life and dedicated his life for the country.
Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, who was a two-time recipient of Sena Medal was martyred while fighting terrorists in 2018. For his brave actions and sacrifice, he has earned the highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashok Chakra.
Why is Lance Naik Wani’s case is special–because he was once a terrorist.
Nazir Wani was a resident of Cheki Ashmuji village, Kulgam district, Jammu and Kashmir, India. In the early 1990s, when Wani was a young boy, he weaved Kashmiri carpets for a monthly salary of few hundred rupees. When the insurgency broke out in the 1990s, it impacted their work and finding work became a struggle.
According to a senior Army officer, Wani was a terrorist initially and became a counter-insurgent after he realised the futility of violence.
He then surrendered and became a part of the Ikhwan, a pro-government militia group led by Javed Ahmad Shah in late 1994. According to Wani’s brother Mushtaq, Wani had joined Ikhwan out of his free will.
Three militia groups of that time had merged to form the Ikhwan to fight against the militancy.
In 2002 the state government of Jammu and Kashmir under Mufti Mohammad Sayeed disbanded the Ikhwan, which led to the loss of livelihood for its members. By then Wani had a wife and two children.
Nazir Wani then joined 162 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army), a Territorial Army battalion of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, in 2004.
He was awarded Sena Medal in 2007 for gallantry and for a second time in 2018, for killing a terrorist in close combat. He took part in several major counter-insurgency operations in which top terrorists were either arrested or killed.
According to one of his relatives, Wani had killed around thirty terrorists including some major terrorists.
At the time of his death, Wani’s battalion, 162 Infantry Battalion TA was attached to the 34th battalion, Rashtriya Rifles while conducting counter-insurgency operations.
On 25 November 2018, a counter-terrorist operation known as Operation Batagund was launched by 34 Rashtriya Rifles at Hirpora village near Batagund, Shopian district. After intelligence relating to the presence of senior Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in the area was received, a cordon and search operation was initiated at midnight by a joint team of security forces consisting of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, army units and Central Reserve Police Force in the area.
The terrorists then fired upon the forces after which the forces retaliated.
At 12:25 am, according to an army officer, one of the soldiers was hit. The soldier fell near the garage of a house. Under covering fire provided by his fellow soldiers, Wani attempted to pull the injured soldier to safety.
In the meantime, the terrorists kept firing at them and changing their positions. Despite being under fire, Wani pulled out the wounded soldier.
During the gunfight, Wani entered the house and killed the district commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba and another foreign terrorist. Wani received multiple wounds on his body and head, but despite his injuries, Wani shot and injured a third terrorist. The other soldiers had entered the building by then and killed the remaining terrorists. First aid was immediately provided for his injuries and he was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the six terrorists killed in the operation belonged to Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
The bodies of all six terrorists were retrieved. A large number of weapons and ammunition were recovered. Police stated that terrorist Abbas Bhat who was killed, was wanted in connection with the murder of Lt. Ummer Fayaz, who was abducted and murdered by terrorists in May 2017.
“Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani exhibited the most conspicuous gallantry in personality eliminating two terrorists and assisting in the evacuation of his wounded colleagues and made supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army,” a press release from the President’s Secretariat said.
Since his enrolement in the Army, Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, epitomised qualities of a fine soldier. He always volunteered for challenging missions, displaying great courage under adverse conditions, exposing himself to grave danger on numerous occasions in the line of duty. This is evident from the two gallantry awards conferred on him earlier. Lance Naik Nazir, yet again insisted on being part of the assault team during Operation Batagund launched by 34 Rashtriya Rifles Battalion. For displaying unparalleled bravery and supreme sacrifice in the line of duty, Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, was awarded “ASHOK CHAKRA (POSTHUMOUS)”.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth