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Param Vir Chakra: Remembering Lance Naik Albert Ekka

They face the most dreadful odds and even defy their death; they show patriotism by their actions and not by mere words. It is what Indian Army is renowned for. Born in Ranchi on 27th December 1942, Lance Naik Albert Ekka joined the Indian Armed Forces when he was just 20.

In December 1971, the number of genocides in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) swelled in huge numbers. The Pakistan Air Force was mercilessly striking the towns and cities on the western border. Sensing the need for immediate action and relief, the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, declared war against Pakistan and ordered mobilization on the eastern border of India.

Within no time, the 14th Guards of the Brigade of the Guards regiment of the Indian Army were commanded to capture a post near Akhaura, a Pakistani military position on the border between the Indian state of Tripura and Bangladesh. Akhaura is a very important area and is strategically significant. The area is home to many guerilla soldiers and army troops. Lance Naik Albert Ekka and his battalion decided to launch an attack in the early morning hours of 4th December 1971. The task of capturing the post was dangerous and uphill. The Pakistani soldiers had built a fortress near their military base at Akhaura.

The crossfire and attack between the 14 Guards and the Pakistani troops intensified with heavy shelling and firing using small arms. Lance Naik Albert Ekka and his men, undeterred by the assaults, advanced towards their target, braving all the odds. A light machine gun attacked the Indian soldiers from one of the Pakistani bunkers.

With his lion heart, a seriously wounded Albert Ekka charged with his bayonet and killed two enemy soldiers and silenced their light machine guns. Lance Naik Ekka, alongside his comrades, kept advancing and destroying all the Pakistani bunkers and destroyed their enemy.

As soon as the Indian soldiers went close to their target, they were hit by a medium machine gun from a two-storied building. The attack from the medium machine guns inflicted several casualties on the Indian side. Lance Naik Albert Ekka displayed an indomitable show of bravery and courage.

Sensing that the casualties would be more if the MMG were not silenced, Albert Ekka moved forward without considering his safety. He charged with a grenade inside the premises of the double-storied building. The grenade injured a Pakistani soldier and killed another. Lance Naik Albert Ekka ascended a high-rise wall, moved inside the building and bayonetted the Pakistani soldier operating the Medium Machine Gun (MMG), ending the constant firing and shelling. And hence, with his regiment, Lance Naik Albert Ekka achieved an almost impossible mission.

If Lance Naik Albert Ekka was alive today, he would have been a youth icon for many countrymen. But in reality, a solitary statue stands tall on the busiest crossroads of Ranchi named after him. Lance Naik Albert Ekka was honored with the Param Vir Chakra posthumously for displaying a brave show of courage and bravery that has become a part of the Army folklore.

📎 Related Articles

1. Wikipedia: Param Vir Chakra
2. Wikipedia: Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
3. Wikipedia: Brigade of the Guards
4. Wikipedia: Akhaura Upazila
5. Unsung Hero: The Inspiring Journey of Major Kuldip Singh