Lance Naik Albert Ekka was a soldier who served in the Indian Army as a non-commissioned officer during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, along the eastern front. Albert Ekka was posthumously awarded, the Param Vir Chakra for his courageous actions during the capture of the Pakistani positions at Gangasagar, during the Battle of Gangasagar in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). He was martyred on the night of 3 December 1971, after being severely injured while assaulting enemy machine gun positions.
Lance Naik Albert Ekka was born on Sunday, 27 December 1942 (age 28 years; at the time of death) in Zari Village, Gumla District, Bihar (now in Jharkhand). Since his childhood, Albert wanted to be a soldier. He also liked hunting sports, as he was born and brought up in a tribal community, where hunting was practised extensively. Albert knew how to use bow and arrow, and was pretty good at it, as a result of which, his marksmanship qualities were far superior to others. Albert Ekka also played hockey and often participated in various district level tournaments. It was in one such tournament, that Albert was spotted by Subedar Major Bhagirath Soren, from the 7th Bihar Regiment, and enrolled Albert in the Bihar Regiment. On 27 December 1962, Albert joined the Bihar Regiment.
Family & Caste
Lance Naik Albert Ekka belonged to a Bihari Adivasi family.
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name was Julius Ekka.
His mother’s name was Mariam Ekka.
He got married to Balamdina Ekka in 1968. She died on Friday, 16 April 2021, at the age of 89 years.
Albert Ekka is survived by his only son, Vincent Ekka.
Lance Naik Albert Ekka was a Catholic Christian.
He resided at Gumla, VPO Jari (Chainpuri), Jharkhand – 835206, India.
Lance Naik Albert Ekka joined the Bihar Regiment soon after the end of the Sino-India War of 1962. During the initial phase of his service, Albert was involved in the counter-insurgency operations in the North East. Having served in the Army for six years, in 1968, Albert was moved from his parent Bihar Regiment to the newly raised, 14th Battalion of the Brigade of Guards.
Gangasagar complex had to be captured
On the evening of 3 December 1971. Pakistan Airforce bombed the forward airbases of the Indian Airforce, leading to an all-out hostility between India and Pakistan. In an attempt to contain the Indian invasion of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), the Pakistani Army had constructed a formidable defence on and around the Gangasagar complex. This district was merely six kilometres away from the capital of the Indian state of Tripura and hence, was a threat to any invasion being launched from Pakistan. The Gangasagar complex included Gangasagar railway station, Mogra, Gol Gangail and the Triangle.
The Battle of Gangasagar begins
It was decided that the unit of 14 Guards, a part of the 73 Mountain Brigade, will be detached to capture the Gangasagar complex which would eliminate any threats of a Pakistani attack on Agartala. According to the plan, Alpha and Bravo companies would move and secure Gangasagar railway station whereas Charlie and Delta companies would capture and secure Mogra, Gol Gangail and the Triangle. On the night of 3 December 1971, Lance Naik Albert Ekka, who was a part of Bravo Company, attacked the Gangasagar railway station. This station was heavily defended by the enemy and all the gaps were plugged in by the enemy as they were aware of an imminent Indian attack. The attacking Indian force came under heavy firing and enemy artillery and mortar bombardment.
Wounded Albert leapt on the enemy like a tiger
While leading the charge in close combat hand to hand battle, Lance Naik Albert Ekka saw an enemy machine-gun bunker situated nearby, he knew someone had to do something about it as it was causing a lot of Indian casualties, so without fearing for his life, Ekka quietly crawled near the bunker and silenced the enemy’s machine-gun fire with his bayonet. During this, Albert was wounded in the arm and neck but continued to press on with the attack upon the Pakistani forces. After clearing one bunker after the other, a Pakistani medium machine gun post, situated on the second floor of a heavily defended and fortified railway signalling building, opened a heavy volume of fire upon the advancing Indian troops, thus, not only stalling the advance but also inflicting casualties. Albert once again decided to do the needful. He crawled near the enemy MMG building and quickly lobbed a grenade. The machine gun nest was being manned by two Pakistani troops, of which one was killed and the other one was injured, but it did not stop the machine gunfire. Albert decided to scale the steep walls of the fortified position. After reaching the machine gunner, Albert killed him with his bayonet.
In her book, The Brave Param Vir Chakra Stories, author Rachna Bisht Rawat wrote,
Ekka climbed the old rusty ladder and entered the building limping and jumped through the window into which he had thrown the grenade. He took off his rifle from his shoulder and attacked the surviving Pakistani soldier from its shining bayonet. He remembered very well the teachings of his master, ‘Ghop nikal, ghop nikal’. When the Pakistani soldier fell, smoke was coming out of his machine gun. The dead Pakistani soldier’s blood splattered on Ekka’s face. He wiped him with the sleeve of his uniform. The satisfaction of success could be read in his eyes.”
For exhibiting the greatest form of valour, Lance Naik Albert Ekka was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his actions on the battlefield that, forced the enemy to withdraw and retreat. Albert was awarded the medal posthumously on 26 January 1972.
- For his support and sacrifice for the liberation of Bangladesh, Lance Naik Albert Ekka was posthumously conferred with the ‘Friends of Liberation War’ honour by the Bangladesh government.
- On 3 December 1978, the Army Postal Service Corps issued a cover in honour of the martyr.
- On 26 January 2000, upon completion of 50 years of the establishment of the Indian constitution, the government of India issued a special commemorative stamp of Albert Ekka, to honour the martyr’s brave deeds.
- The Jharkhand government has named one of the main intersections at Ranchi as Albert Ekka Chowk.
- Near the main gate of 4 Corps’ Headquarters, at Tezpur, a majestic bust of Lance Naik Albert Ekka was erected in his honour.
Lance Naik Albert Ekka was severely wounded during his first encounter with an enemy machine-gun post. As he progressed north of the town, Albert and his company were once again under heavy enemy medium machine gunfire. Albert moved quickly and lobbed a grenade in the bunker and quickly finished off the remainder of the machine gun crew with his bayonet. During the action, Albert was mortally wounded and succumbed to his injuries after having his objectives achieved and saving his company from sustaining any more casualties.
Colonel O.P. Kohli, who was back then, the Company Commander of Lance Naik Albert Ekka stated,
My chest filled with pride after seeing this whole scene. I was waiting for Ekka to come out of that building below. I also saw a lean skinny person coming down the stairs. I was watching him descend. Then suddenly Ekka’s body fell loose and he fell down on the ground.”
- Lance Naik Albert Ekka is the only Param Vir Chakra recipient for undertaking operations in erstwhile East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh).
- He was the first soldier to have been awarded the Param Vir Chakra during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war and was one of the four recipients of the prestigious medal during the war.
- Lance Naik Albert Ekka was laid to rest at Sripalli village, Dukli, which lay south of Agartala.
- Albert used to wear loose clothes, including his uniform, as a result of which he was often scolded by his superiors for the not-so-smart turnout.
- Lance Naik Albert Ekka was very shy and found it hard to get along with his fellow soldiers and superiors in his battalion.