This is the story of a soldier of the Indian Army who refused to give up in the fight against the enemy in the form of nature. He was fighting all alone without any food and water supply 35 feet beneath the snow in −45 °C temperatures continuously for six days. This fact is not easy to believe that how can a man survive in such conditions for six days. If I talk about myself, I start to sneeze when I sit in an air-conditioned environment. But Hanumanthappa Koppad forced the miracles to happen, by his will to survive and serve the country more. We all know the degree of devastation, which can be caused when nature shows its power. But this time, nature had no idea about the strength of Hanumanthappa.
Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, a 32-year-old Indian soldier with 19th Battalion of Madras Regiment of the Indian Army, was posted in Karakoram Range, Siachen Glacier along with his team. It was the month of February 2016, an extreme winter season in Siachen Glacier. On February 3, everyone was on their regular duty when the northern part of Siachen Glacier was hit by a major Avalanche. Unfortunately, nine personnel, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO), died under the snow-fighting until the very last breath. Rescue operations by specialized teams of the Army and the Air Force were underway and coordinated from Leh and Udhampur. On 8th Feb, the rescue team found Hanumanthappa alive who was fighting with the snow for the last six days.
Everyone along with his family got a sigh of relief as there was a chance to save Hanumanthappa. CT scan showed evidence of oxygen deprivation to the brain. He had pneumonia in both the lungs along with liver and kidney dysfunction. He was placed on Ventilator. His health was critical and on 11th Feb, he died due to multiple organ failure in a military hospital, New Delhi. The Defence Minister of India and the three service chiefs paid homage to the departed soldier before his body was taken to his native village where last rites were performed with military honor.
I would like to share some facts about Hanumanthappa Koppad and his passion to join Army:-
• He was the only man who survived in the incident
We can estimate the kind of physical fitness and mental toughness of Hanumanthappa if he survived this much. His fight for his life showed the value of a soldier for the country. May be his zeal towards his passion forced the Siachen Glacier to witness a miracle
- He was rejected by the army thrice
Despite showing such courage in harsh conditions, he was rejected by the army thrice. This inspires every young person to continue fighting for his goals.
- He volunteered to fight in difficult areas instead of peacekeeping operations
He was enrolled in Madras Regiment in 2002 and after that, he served in the toughest regions including Jammu and Kashmir for a decade. According to a senior official, he volunteered to serve in the areas witnessing terrorism. After finishing this posting, he volunteered to fight terrorist outfits National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in the northeast between 2010 to 2012.
• His name has a special meaning
After their family got the news of his rescue after the six days of struggle, his father clarified the meaning of his name. He revealed his name was after the Hindu god Hanuman, so he triumphed death.
• Yoga expert
Army personnel described Hanumanthappa as a Yoga expert as he always used to teach yoga to his team members. Many people believe that his religious beliefs and extreme devotedness towards Yoga and fitness helped him to survive in those conditions.
• Walked 6 Km to school every day
He used to reach his school in Aralikatti village, Dharwad district in Karnataka by walking 6 Km. This part of his life helped him to develop high physical standards which helped him later in life.