Agartala, June 5 (IANS) Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Tuesday inaugurated a sprawling park named after 1971 war hero Lance Naik Albert Ekka, who along with his comrades saved the city from Pakistani aggression.
The park, developed by the Agartala Municipal Corporation in association with Tripura’s Forest Department at a cost of Rs 1.22 crore, is situated adjoining the Army complexes at Lichu Bagan on the outskirts here.
“The park is developed over two hectares of land. Tripura’s traditional customs, history, tribals’ life and culture have been showcased while a statue of Lance Naik Ekka is being erected to attract students, youths, historians and others,” Agartala Mayor Prafulla Jit Sinha told IANS.
Ekka, who was then 28, belonged to Gumla district of then undivided Bihar and now in Jharkhand.
The pitched battle of Hilli on the eastern frontier was among the most crucial in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. Pakistani resistance at Gangasagar in erstwhile East Pakistan collapsed through the exemplary valour of Ekka – at the cost of his life.
“The Pakistanis had a plan to capture Agartala at the first strike as the city had all along been a hub of Bangladesh liberation planning. Ekka and his team saved the city,” Deb told IANS.
It was Ekka and his comrades who led the attack on the Pakistanis occupying the Gangasagar railway station on December 3, 1971 and flushed them out.
According to security expert Manas Paul, who researched the Bangladesh Liberation War and related aspects: “Despite being fatally wounded. a profusely bleeding Ekka took on heavily armed Pakistanis firing relentlessly from medium machine guns.”
Ekka, he says, under covering fire, slung his rifle on his back, and crawled towards the Pakistani signal building where he lobbed a grenade, killing one of the two Pakistani soldiers and bayonetting the other.
And despite being heavily wounded, he kept on screaming the battle cry — “Jai Hind, Jai Hind”, says Paul, adding Ekka and his fellow soldier’s do-or-die spirit forced the Pakistani soldiers to retreat from Gangasagar and adjoining areas.
Ekka received the only Param Vir Chakra — the highest gallantry award for war time valour — in the eastern frontier along with three others in western frontier.
The mortal remains of Ekka along with 10 other soldiers of the 14 Guards Regiment were brought to Agartala from Gangasagar and buried at Sripalli village in Dukli, 15 km south of Agartala.
Deb said he would speak to Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and Army officials to extend their help to add more objects to the war material.
Villagers led by Bhuban Das had erected and protected a small memorial at Sripalli.
“Since 1971, every year on Vijay Diwas, we respectfully garland the memorial and will continue to do so,” an elderly Bhuban Das told IANS.
While a postal stamp in Ekka’s memory was issued on the 50th Republic Day in 2000, Bangladesh also conferred on Ekka the Friends of Liberation War honour for his outstanding support and sacrifice to the 1971 war as a foreigner.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])