India mourns Siachen hero, tributes pour in


At 19,600 feet above ground in the world’s highest battlefield, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad was used to the heights, and now his soul is aloft in the pure Himalayan air. India mourned the Siachen hero as the 33-year-old intrepid soldier died on February 11, three days after he was miraculously rescued alive from beneath tonnes of snow. “Lance Naik Hanamanthappa is no more. He breathed his last at 11:45 AM today,” a senior army official said.

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa was a soldier at the 19th Battalion of Madras Regiment. When he was found, he was alive after being under 35 feet of ice for six days at an avalanche-hit army post in the Siachen glacier in Jammu and Kashmir.

Millions across the country had prayed for his recovery, with TV channels frenziedly broadcasting smallest details of his life and his miraculous recovery. But the hope that flickered briefly is now extinguished. Tributes poured in from across the country, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauding the immortal soldier. “He leaves us sad & devastated. RIP Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. The soldier in you remains immortal. Proud that martyrs like you served India.”

Lance Naik Hanamanthappa had volunteered to serve with the 54 Rashtriya Rifles (Madras) in Jammu and Kashmir from 2008 to 2010, and later in the northeast from 2010 to 2012. During his stint in the Northeast, he was a part of the operations against the NDFB and ULFA. He was posted in Siachen since August 2015.

The region is known for its hostile terrain and the hardships faced by Indian soldiers.

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