Lt Nawang Kapadia, who was commissioned on September 2, 2000 in the Fourth Battalion the Third Gorkha Rifles, died while gallantly fighting Pakistan based terrorists in the jungles of Rajwar in Kupwara district of Srinagar on November 11, 2000.
The happiest day in twenty four year old Mumbai-born Nawang’s life was when he joined the Officers’ Training Academy at Chennai. His parents, well-known mountaineers Harish and Geeta, encouraged him to the fullest in spite of the cynical views of others. It was a proud moment indeed at the Passing Out Parade on September 2, 2000 when his family and friends saw him receiving his Lieutenant stars on commissioning to the prestigious Fourth Battalion The Third Gorkha Rifles. After a brief visit home, Nawang proceeded to the Regimental Centre at Varanasi from where he joined his Battalion on October 29, 2000. The Battalion was, during this period, continuously involved in operations against foreign terrorists who had infiltrated and were in the process of establishing their bases in the Kupwara area of Jammu and Kashmir.
Nawang was immediately involved in these operations where his qualities of heart and mind as well as his abundant courage were a beacon to the troops under his command.
On the November 10 the Battalion received information of a large number of terrorists hiding in the notorious jungles of Rajwar near Kupwara. Search and destroy operations were immediately launched with Nawang leading his own platoon. At approximately 11 am, a large hideout was discovered by the Battalion and Nawang’s platoon came under fire from a group of eight to ten terrorists in the vicinity. Havaldar Chitra Bahadur got a burst in the stomach and fell mortally wounded.
At this stage, Nawang instinctively rushed to rescue Chitra Bahadur, firing his weapon ,under the covering fire of his comrades. A terrorist who was hiding in the nearby foliage fired at Nawang. In the crossfire, Nawang got a bullet in the face and died, leading his troops in the highest tradition of valour and sacrifice.
The encounter has resulted in the killing of two terrorists of the Al Omar Tanzeem, a Pakistan based organization, with reports of two others grievously wounded and likely to have died. Large quantities of arms and ammunition have been recovered. The fight lasted over over 36 hours. Lt Nawang Kapadia died in the highest traditions of the Indian Army, living up to the ethos and standards of his Battalion, which earlier had lost two officers like him in counter insurgency operations in 1983-85 and again performed gallantly, despite severe casualties, in the Batalik Sector of Kargil.
Nawang Harish Kapadia was born on December 15, 1975, in Mumbai three years after his elder brother, Sonam . As his surname indicates, theirs is a family of traditional cloth merchants, of a community that has a scarce presence in the Defence Services.
From his early childhood, Nawang had imbibed the best adventurous talents of his parents, both of whom have many achievements under their belt. Sonam and Nawang were named after famous Sherpa mountaineers; ironically both are Gorkha names. Nawang means â€œleader of menâ€, a very apt name for an able soldier.
Nawang did his initial schooling at New Era School and subsequently at the St. Xavierâ€™s Boysâ€™ Academy. All through his student days, Nawang was always a free-spirited lad, spending a lot of time on the sportsâ€™ field and displayed leadership qualities from a young age. With such a fun-loving and carefree attitude, he was always making new friends, many of whom developed and maintained close and loving bonds with the entire family. He did his B. Com. from Jai Hind college, Bombay. In college, his interests included trekking, hiking, mountaineering (which of course, was in his genes), sports, martial arts and music. He enjoyed life to the maximum, and it was most evident in his passion for food. When it came to eating, no one could match him. Nawang could out-eat anyone and at anytime.
Lt Nawang Kapadiaâ€™s sacrifice will remain a shining light to inspire future generations. The city of Mumbai should be proud of its son who lived his life here and leaves behind a sorrowing family and a large circle of friends.
He was cremated with military honours on Tuesday 14 November, 2000.Nawang lies in peace, having chosen a career as he desired and dying for the country, trying to save a life, in best traditions of the army.