First Kashmiri receives Shaurya Chakra

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Srinagar, May 14 (UNI) Late Rifleman Abdul Hamid Chara, a resident of a remote village in north Kashmir, has been awarded the nation's coveted gallantry award ''Shaurya Chakra'' for killing three militants in June last year in a fierce encounter in the state.

The wife of Chara, Gulshan today received the Shaurya Chakra medal from President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan at a ceremony, a defence ministry spokesman said.

He said Gulshan was accompanied by Chara's youngest son and his brother Riyaz Ahmad Chara. With this Chara became the first Kashmiri to receive the award.

Giving details about Chara, the spokesman said he was kidnapped by A1 Baraq militants in 1990 at a young age of 15.

However, he escaped from the militants' clutches and surrendered before the Army.

In 1990 he joined the Special Operation Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police. He survived a number of militant attacks on his life but his father was not so lucky and fell prey to the bullets of militants in 2004.

This, he said, further strengthened his resolve, to fight militancy and he joined 162 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) in 2004.

On June 12, 2007, Chara killed three foreign militants in the forests of Gagal, Lolab in the state displaying gallantry of a high order before making supreme sacrifice of life in defending the nation and was hence, honoured with the Shaurya Chakra.

The spokesman said the Army has constructed and dedicated a Shaheed Gate in his native village, the first of its kind in Kashmir Valley and is providing free education to all his children.

He said Chara's younger brother has followed his footsteps and joined the Army as a young recruit.

UNI BAS SP ND1652

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