A sea of humanity turned out at Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad's ancestral village in Karnataka's Dharwar to bid a hero's farewell to the soldier who was rescued six days after his post was buried in an avalanche in Siachen. The soldier fought for his life at the Army's Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi for three days before dying of multiple organ failure at 11.45 am on Thursday.
The body Koppad was brought at Hubli in Karnataka where citizens gathered to pay their last respects, before being taken to his village in Dharwad for the last rites. The district administration has made preparations for people to pay their respects to Koppad at the Nehru Stadium in Hubli and later at Betadur Government High School.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will also be present for the last rites of Koppad.
Although presumed dead, Hanumanthappa, was found with a pulse by rescue workers using shovels and chainsaws to cut through the ice and snow to reach the buried soldiers at a height of 19,600 feet. The army said he died after suffering multiple organ failure, pneumonia and blood clotting.
"He leaves us sad and devastated," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on his Twitter page. "The soldier in you remains immortal. Proud that martyrs like you served India." The discovery of the soldier sent a wave of patriotic pride through India with television networks calling him the "Siachen braveheart".
The soldiers were manning a post opposite Pakistani troops in an area known as the battleground on the roof of the world in northern Kashmir, where avalanches and landslides are common.
On the glacier, thousands of Indian and Pakistani soldiers contest an area where they must deal with altitude sickness, high winds, frostbite and temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius. The weather and terrain have claimed more lives than fighting.
Last month, four Indian soldiers were killed by an avalanche while on patrol in the same region. In 2012, an avalanche on the Pakistan-controlled part of the glacier killed 129 soldiers.
(With inputs from agencies)
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