For the first time, three civilians from Ladakh region, including a porter in Siachin who saved two soldiers buried in an avalanche, have been honoured by Army with special award for their exemplary courage and devotion to duty.

Lt. Gen. Sanjeev Chachra Army Commander of Northern Command, gave away the awards to Stanzin Padma, Jigmet Urgain and Nima Norboo on the eve of Army Day at Udampur, Jammu last week.

The highlight of this annual feature this year was that departing from tradition, a number of civilians were included in the list of awardees, according to army officials.

Lt. Gen. Chachra conferred awards on men, women, boys and girls not in uniform who had exhibited exemplary grit, human qualities, willpower and genuine concern for the less privileged, they said.

Padma was honoured for digging out alive two army soldiers who were buried under snow due to an avalanche on May 28 last year while risking his own life.

Jigmet Urgain’s career in the army was cut short by an unfortunate mine accident during training in which he lost his eyesight as well as both his hands but that did not stop him for helping others

He took up various social programmes for the uplift of the people. Being well conversant with the problems and requirement of his less privileged brethren, he was able to provide valuable advice to the army in initiating welfare schemes which proved extremely beneficial to the locals.

Earlier, Padma also saved the life of fellow porter Nima Norboo. Both are employed at Siachin — an assignment which is challenging and fraught with danger.

On 5 December 2012, while operating a trolley, Narboo fell into a 200 feet deep crevasse. The only way to save him was for someone to lower himself down into the treacherous crevasse and physically extricate Narboo.

Undaunted by the grave danger, Padma volunteered for this task and after a gruelling effort which extended for about 20 hours, was able to extricate Norboo from the jaws of certain death.

The exceptional tenacity and guts displayed by Narboo in remaining calm and composed for over 20 hours in a 200 feet deep crevasse in sub-arctic temperatures earned him the award.