New Delhi: CRPF's Pradip Kumar Panda was the face of the Quick Action Team (QAT) in the Kashmir Valley. He was specialised in face-to-face gunfight and had cheated death on several occasions. But Panda ran out of luck on December 30, 2017 when he lost his life while fighting Jaish-e-Mohammad fidayeen at Lethpora in south Kashmir.

Panda's team received information about three heavily armed terrorists who had sneaked into the Lethpora camp and were hiding in a four-storeyed building. Along with his team Range, QAT of South Kashmir Ops Range (SKOR) and Anantnag Panda rushed towards Lethpora camp. One militant was sighted near the perimeter of the camp. Constable Pradip Kumar Panda and Constable S Prakash of valley QAT were in the front to engage the militant. As they closed in on the location, the militant greeted them with a heavy volley of fire. 

One of the militants was hiding in the undulating open ground and kept firing. No effective cover was available to approach him. Risking his life, Panda along with his buddy constable advanced through the open area adopting fire and move tactics. As they closed in, the militant tried to hurl grenades towards them. At this juncture Constable Panda, without caring for his life came out of his cover and fired at the militant neutralising him on the spot. 

After this, he along with his comrade took upon themselves the task to clear the room from the ground floor and reach the top. After clearing the ground and first two floors, Constable Panda entered another room. The militants hiding in the room fired upon him. Despite being injured, he did not give up and continued to fire at the militants until he fell. 

During the operation, Panda succumbed to his injuries and attained martyrdom. The Lethpora operation lasted for more than 36 hours and was eventually repulsed successfully by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). He was among the five paramilitary personnel killed in the operation.

Constable Pradip Kumar Panda displayed exceptional bravery, courage and commitment to duty while fighting the terrorists and made supreme sacrifice for the nation. Martyred CRPF jawan Pradeep Kumar Panda was awarded the Kirti Chakra posthumously, by President Ramnath Kovind. 

Earlier, Panda was honoured with the police medal for showing raw courage during a fidayeen attack on Independence Day in 2016 at Nowhatta in Srinagar’s old city. Panda kept firing at the terrorists even when his commandant Pramod Kumar was shot through the skull. Panda, who hailed from Odisha, joined the CRPF in 2006.