Jammu/New Delhi: Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, who is in a critical condition after miraculously surviving six days buried under snow on the Siachen glacier, chose difficult areas over "peace postings", and fought for 10 years in conflict zones. "The brave solider displayed a high degree of initiative and has served 10 years in difficult and challenging areas out of 13 years of total service," a senior army officer said.
Hanamanthappa, who hails from Karnataka, was found alive on Monday, buried under 25 feet of snow for six days after an avalanche hit his post at an altitude of 19,600 feet close to the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan.
The temperature at that altitude was minus 45 degrees Celsius.
"The 33-year-old serving soldier, who was enrolled in 19th Battalion of the Madras Regiment on October 25, 2002, is highly motivated and physically fit...He opted for challenging terrains from the beginning," the officer said.
"The soldier has served in Mahore (J&K) from 2003 to 2006 where he was actively involved in counterinsurgency operations. He again volunteered to serve with 54 Rashtriya Rifles (Madras) in the state from 2008 to 2010 where he displayed indomitable courage and gallantry in fighting terrorism during his tenure," he said.
Hanamanthappa also volunteered to serve in the Northeast from 2010 to 2012 where he actively participated in successful operations against the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and United Liberation Front of Assam, he added.
He was serving in the super high altitude areas of Siachen Glacier from August 2015 and was chosen for deployment in one of the highest posts at an altitude of 19,600 feet since December 2015, encountering temperature well below minus 40 degrees Celsius and winds up to 100km per hour, the officer said.
"As an individual, Hanamanthappa is an ever smiling man who shares a cordial relationship with peers and subordinates," the officer said.
After being evacuated, he was transfered to to Delhi by an IAF aircraft accompanied by a critical care specialist of the force and a medical specialist from the base camp. Hanamanthappa is being treated at Army Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi by a team of intensivists, neurologist, nephrologist, endocrinologist and surgeons.
He has been administered fluids and drugs to bring up his blood pressure, besides antibiotics. "He continues to battle the odds and his medical condition remains very critical," a medical bulletin issued by the hospital said on Wednesday. Hailing Hanamanthappa's "endurance and will power" to serve the nation, Congress President Sonia Gandhi wished for his speedy recovery. "I join the nation in praying for the speedy recovery of Lance Naik Hanamanthappa. We salute his endurance and will power to serve the nation," she said. "True to the glorious tradition of our armed forces, Lance Naik Hanamanthappa has fought against the most challenging circumstances that man can ever face. The nation remains indebted to his service," Sonia said.