Hero of two nations: Lance Nayak Albert Ekka, PVC
Bengaluru, Dec 4: Forty-seven years ago Lance Nayak Albert Ekka laid down his life defending the nation against the forces of Pakistan, in the process saving Agartala from Pakistan's invasion during 1971 war.
It was on the intervening night of December 3 and 4, the battle took place near Gangasagar railway station, 7 Km from Agartala in 1971. To turn the tide of a losing war, Pakistan Army had planned a surprise attack on Agartala, barely days before they surrendered to General Jagjit Singh Arora on December 16. Agartala was the hub of strategic planning for the Bangladesh Liberation War. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman visited Agartala twice. Occupying this state capital would put Pakistan in an advantageous position.
The battle of Hilli on the eastern frontier has gone down in history as the most crucial battle in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. LN Ekka was posthumously awarded India's highest gallantry award the Param Vir Chakra (PVC).
War memorial and park in Tripura:
People of Tripura every year pay tribute to Lance Naik Albert Ekka on his death anniversary in Agartala. A small war memorial was built at Dukli in memory of Ekka and other soldiers who died during the war.
Also, in June, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb inaugurated a sprawling park named after Lance Naik Albert Ekka. The park, developed by the Agartala Municipal Corporation in association with Tripura's Forest Department at a cost of Rs 1.22 crore, is situated adjoining the Army complexes at Lichu Bagan on the outskirts in Tripura.
A postal stamp in Ekka's memory was issued on the 50th Republic Day in 2000, Bangladesh also conferred on Ekka the Friends of Liberation War honour for his outstanding support and sacrifice to the 1971 war as a foreigner.
The citation of Albert Ekka's action with 14 Guards reads thus:
"Number 4239746 Lance Naik Albert Ekka belonged to the left forward company of the battalion which put in an attack on 'Gangasagar' at 0415 hours on 03 December 1971, an action which has no parallel in the history of Indian Army as it involved approaching the objective in a single file astride railway lines. With the enemy well entrenched in concrete bunkers and determined to defend it with all their might, the only way to eliminate resistance was to close in and lob a couple of grenades and use the bayonet ruthlessly and effectively. The other rank in the process of charging on to a bunker from which a Light Machine Gun was giving deadly enfilade fire, was seriously injured in the stomach. Nonetheless, Lance Naik Albert Ekka managed to capture the Light Machine Gun and bayoneted two enemy soldiers.
Notwithstanding the injury, the other rank continued to fight on the mile long objective. Towards the Northern end of the objective, one Medium Machine Gun from the second storey of a building held up the advance by effective and accurate fire, inflicting heavy casualties on the company. Lance Naik Albert Ekka crawled upto the building and threw a grenade through a loop hole killing one more enemy and injuring the other. Exhibiting supreme will power and complete disregard to personal safety, the other rank climbed up a side wall, entered the top of the bunker and bayoneted the enemy who was still firing. Thus, by silencing the enemy machine gun, the other rank saved the company from further casualties and enabled it to capture the objective. During the process of the last action, Lance Naik Albert Ekka sustained further injuries which subsequently proved fatal. The other rank showed an exemplary act of gallantry and supreme sense of sacrifice and even laid down his life so that company could achieve its aim. For this valiant action and super human act of gallantry, Lance Naik Albert Ekka was strongly recommended for the award of "PARAM VIR CHAKRA" (Posthumous) and was awarded the same on 13 January 1972.