Leaders cutting across party lines paid homage to braveheart Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad who died on Thursday, three days after being miraculously rescued from beneath tonnes of snow in Siachen Glacier, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the soldier in him would remain “immortal”.
The 33-year-old soldier of the 19th Battalion of Madras Regiment was extricated alive six days after an avalanche hit his post at a height of 19,600 feet burying him under heavy layers of snow. The news triggering a wave of sympathy from across the country, as people prayed for his recovery.
His death on Thursday plunged the nation into grief.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Koppad’s demise and in his tribute said the soldier in him “remains immortal.”
“He leaves us sad & devastated. RIP Lance Naik Hanamanthappa. The soldier in you remains immortal. Proud that martyrs like you served India,” Modi tweeted.
President Pranab Mukherjee in his condolence message said, “I am deeply sad to learn about the passing away of your son, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad. Lance Naik Koppad was a hero who demonstrated exemplary will power and courage in the face of adversity. He made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.”
Vice President Hamid Ansari too joined in paying homage to the Siachen braveheart.
“A survivor of the mishap at Siachen, he had come to symbolise the grit, determination and the indomitable spirit of the Indian armed forces,” he said.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi also expressed deep shock and profound grief over the death of the fallen hero.
“During his life, the braveheart son of India united the entire nation in praying for him and has every citizen grieving for him today,” she said.
“He fought till his last displaying utmost valour, courage and determination, which is the hallmark of our Armed Forces,” she said in a message extending her deepest condolence to Koppad’s family and loved ones. He is survived by his wife Mahadevi Ashok Bilebal and two-year-old daughter Netra.
Koppad’s body in a coffin wrapped in national colours, was later kept at the Brar Square of the Delhi Cantonment, where several leaders like Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and top brass of the military including the three Service Chiefs, paid their respect by laying wreath on it.
Several civilians had also gathered at the Square to pay tribute to the hero, whose miraculous survival had left the nation in awe.
“In his life and his passing Lance Naik Hanumanthappa has shown the world the meaning of perseverance & courage,” Rahul tweeted.
He further wrote on the micro-blogging site, “His extraordinary spirit and tenacity, till the very end, is an inspiration for all. My thoughts & prayers are with his bereaved family.”
Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh condoling the death of the soldier said “soldier in him will continue to inspire generations.”