As the nation came together to pray for Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, who was rescued alive from under 25 feet of snow at the Siachen Glacier in the Himalayas six days after his post was hit by an avalanche, the soldier from Karnataka had a very special visitor today at an army hospital in Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the soldier at the Army's Research and Referral Hospital and praised his "endurance and indomitable spirit" after he survived six gruelling days under snow in minus 40 degree celsius.
"No words are enough to describe the endurance & indomitable spirit of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. He is an outstanding soldier," he tweeted.
No words are enough to describe the endurance & indomitable spirit of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. He is an outstanding soldier: PM— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 9, 2016
Team of doctors is attending to Lance Naik Hanumanthappa. We are all hoping & praying for the best: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 9, 2016
PM SETS ASIDE PROTOCOL TO MEET SOLDIER
In an unprecedented move, Modi also set aside his security protocol to meet Koppad. The Prime Minister, who travels in a BMW convoy, took the front seat on a Range Rover car which did not even a have a beacon light. Moreover, there was not adequate security at the Research and Referral Hospital during his silent visit.
It appeared that even the Delhi Police was not informed about the visit.
The ambulance and jammers, which are part of the Prime Minister's cavalcade, arrived five minutes later.
Chief of Army Staff, General Dalbir Singh, earlier met the Madras regiment soldier, who is said to be in a "critical" condition.
No words are enough to describe the endurance and indomitable spirit of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa.
An avalanche hit his post at the altitude of 19,600 feet close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan. A wall of ice, a kilometre wide and 800 metres high, came crashing down on their post.
The other nine personnel at the post, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and eight other ranks of Madras Regiment, have died, according to Lt Gen D S Hooda, Northern Army Commander.
"Five bodies have been recovered so far and four bodies have been identified," he said.
An army spokesperson said Koppad's rescue is nothing short of a miracle. A report in the Deccan Chronicle said Koppad survived because he was trapped in an air bubble.
Koppad's wife, who has been praying for her husband's survival, told the media in Dharwad, Karnataka, that she is anxiously waiting to see him.
I am very happy, I want to go and see him, says wife of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, in Dharwad, Karnataka. pic.twitter.com/U1Lrc2zIbG— ANI (@ANI_news) February 9, 2016
Meanwhile, his nephew, who had lost all hopes, said that it was the blessings of the entire villagers that the Lance Naik has fought with the extremely difficult conditions and stayed alive. Army sources told ANI that the rescue teams have located mortal remains of all the remaining nine soldiers and they are being brought out from the avalanche site. Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had yesterday dismissed suggestions for withdrawal of troops from Siachen.
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