Lance Naik Albert Ekka, PVC; was one of the brave soldiers in the Indian Army. On December 3, 1971, during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, he died in action in the battle of Hilli, in Bangladesh. For his bravery, he was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra, India’s highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.
Lance Naik Albert Ekka was born on 27 December 1942 in the Jari village of Chainpur block of Gumla district in Jharkhand.
In 1962, when he was 19 years old, he joined the Indian Army. It was in the Indo-Pak war of 1971, that he got the opportunity to showcase his valour in the service of the nation. He was in the 14 Guards Unit battalion of the Guards Brigade.
He along with his team sacrificed their lives in a fierce battle to capture an advance post of the Pakistan Army at Gangasagar (opposite Agartala city) in Brahmanbaria district of what was earlier, East Pakistan.
Albert Ekka of the 14 Guards Regiment of the Indian Army and 10 other soldiers were laid to rest in Sripalli village in Dukli, 15 km south of Agartala.
Albert Ekka was a soldier who was one of the bravest recipient of the highest gallantry award for his courageous actions in the Battle of Hilli during the Bangladesh Liberation War 1971.
India’s highest wartime gallantry award, the Param Vir Chakra was awarded to Lance-Naik Albert Ekka posthumously.
In 2000, on the 50th Republic day, a postage stamp was issued by the Government of India to commemorate his memory.
He belonged to the state of Jharkhand. The state government honored his memory by naming the major intersection on the Main Road of Ranchi as the Albert Ekka Chowk and his statue was also installed. In his home district Gumla, the block containing his village was also created, which bears his name.
The Government of Bangladesh also conferred on him the Friends of Liberation War honour for his “outstanding support and sacrifice to the 1971 war as a foreigner”.
The Param Vir Chakra citation describes his gallant act as given below:
Lance Naik Albert Ekka was in the left forward company of a battalion of the Brigade of Guards during their attack on the enemy defences at Gangasagar on the Eastern front. This was a well-fortified position held in strength by the enemy. The assaulting troops were subjected to intense shelling and heavy small-arms fire, but they charged onto the objective and were locked in bitter hand-to-hand combat. Lance Naik Albert Ekka noticed an enemy light machine-gun (LMG) inflicting heavy casualties on his company. With complete disregard for his personal safety, he charged the enemy bunker, bayoneted two enemy soldiers and silenced the LMG. Though seriously wounded in this encounter, he continued to fight alongside his comrades through the mile deep objective, clearing bunker after bunker with undaunted courage. Towards the northern end of the objective one enemy medium machine-gun (MMG) opened up from the second storey of a well-fortified building inflicting heavy casualties and holding up the attack. Once again this gallant soldier, without a thought for his personal safety, despite his serious injury and the heavy volume of enemy fire, crawled forward till he reached the building and lobbed a grenade into the bunker killing one enemy soldier and injuring the other. The MMG however continued to fire. With outstanding courage and determination, Lance Naik Albert Ekka scaled a side wall and entering the bunker, bayoneted the enemy soldier who was still firing and thus silenced the machine-gun, saving further casualties to his company and ensuring the success of the attack. In this process however, he received serious injuries and succumbed to them after the capture of the objective.
In this action, Lance Naik Albert Ekka displayed the most conspicuous valour and determination and made the supreme sacrifice in the best traditions of the Army.
His story of courage is so enduring that it will keep motivating the Indian Army for years to come. Lance Naik Albert Ekka became courage personified.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah