STATUE OF ALBERT EKKA. ALBERT EKKA CHOWK, RANCHI, JHARKHAND, INDIA.
Famous sons of Ranchi.
Surrounded by an unrelenting stream of maddening traffic that makes navigating one of Ranchi’s busiest intersection a living nightmare, the dark statue of a grim soldier holding a semi-automatic rifle with bayonet jutting out stands silent testament of the exceptional courage a common soldier can display for comrade and country beyond the call of duty.
Posthumously awarded India’s highest wartime award for gallantry, The Param Vir Chakra, twenty nine year old Albert Ekka hailing from Jharkhand’s impoverished tribal community, several members of whom continue to scratch a living from farming and other odd jobs, had enrolled with the military at the age of twenty with the hope of a better life and earned the rank of a Lance Naik (Lance Corporal) with the Brigade of The Guards – India’s first regiment that took into its fold men belonging to all classes and communities.
During the pitched battle of Gangasagar, a major conflict and turning point in the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, and one that eventually led to the creation of the country of Bangladesh, Ekka upon witnessing enemy fire mowing down his fellow soldiers had charged alone into fortified positions bayoneting opponents in hand to hand combat before succumbing to injuries.
On 30 November 2015, forty four years after his death and burial in Bangladesh, his urn was brought back to his home state and handed over to his widow after an elaborate ceremony organized by Chief Minister, Raghubar Das (see Hindu article Albert Ekka’s urn handed over to his family). His real life portrait can be seen in a postal stamp issued by the Government of India in 2000 and his story felt in the popular television serial Param Vir Chakra – starring Indian actor Annu Kapoor.
In present day Ranchi, Ekka is an inspiring and heroic figure almost everyone from the electric auto rickshaw drivers queued up along the roadside calling out to passengers to shopkeepers and students are familiar with. Details of his exploits can be found in an Indian army citation on the Albert Ekka page, Wikipedia.