JK village celebrates Shaurya Chakra
12 February 2008
The Indian Express
DARDPORA: As a 15-year-old, Abdul Hamid Charra was kidnapped from his home and forced to join a militant outfit, Al-Badr. Today, after he has laid down his life for the nation, Charra has become Kashmir’s first Shaurya Chakra winner. In fact, till recently, the dusty village of Dardpora — located 70 miles from Srinagar — hardly had anything to boast about. But today, the village is proud of Charra, who had joined Army only four years ago and was barely 33 when died fighting militants in neighbouring Gagal village, last summer. Charra was working as a rifleman with Army’s territorial regiment in the militant-infested Lolab Valley. Before he was shot dead, he killed Abu Musa, the district commander of Lashkar-e-Toiba, and two other militants. For his bravery, he was posthumously awarded Shaurya Chakra on January 26. His young widow will receive the honour in April at New Delhi. “After remaining with the militants for 12 days, my husband surrendered,” Gulshana Begum, his widow, said. “In 1993, he joined J-K Police’s special operation group and participated in several successful operations against the militants,” she said, adding that in 2003, he left police to join the Army’s territorial regiment and remained with the unit till his death. “I am proud that my husband died for the country.” However, the villagers came to know about Charra’s martyrdom only when Army officers organised a sombre felicitation ceremony in Lolab Valley. “For my family, this is the highest honour,” said Jana Begum, Charra’s 70-year-old mother. “Everyone is destined to die one day. My son has died a martyr.” In 2004, militants killed his father, Lal Din, outside his house. That didn’t deter Charra and he continued to work for his unit. “Most of the villagers till yesterday didn’t know the meaning of Shaurya Chakra. But, today, everyone is proud that one of us is Kashmir’s first Shaurya Chakra,” said his neighbour and friend Mohammad Sharief Khan. To keep Charra’s memories alive in the snowcapped mountains of Lolab Valley, Army plans to erect a gate in centre of his native village. “For our units in Kashmir, he will be a torchbearer. He sacrificed his life to eliminate militancy,” said General officer Commanding Kilo Force, Major General Rajinder Singh.