The Maoist attack that killed 15 security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Tuesday also dropped a bombshell on this Punjab village.
It took away Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) inspector Tilak Raj Singh, who was a loveable companion to Bharoli’s elders and “Fauji Uncle” to its children.
The explosives expert, 58, a for mer subedar major of Bombay Engineering Corps, had joined the CRPF in 2010, two years after retirement from the army. On Tuesday, with inspector Subhash Sharma, he was leading the 44-member joint security team when it was ambushed.
In 1973, Tilak Raj Singh, at 14, was selected in the army’s Child Brigade from school. After fouryear training, he was a soldier. He became an expert in detecting mines and other explosives, and to use this skill, the CRPF’s 80th Battalion deployed him in the Maoist corridor of Chhattisgarh. His last vacation
was in December last year.
A TOUGH LIFE
The braveheart lost his wife to cancer in 2002 when he was in Drass saving Kargil from Pakistani invaders. Later, one of his daughters got divorced. Of his four children, including two sons, none are employed, so he was also the family’s only breadwinner. He also supported his widowed sister.
“He never showed his pain to others. We have 10 soldiers and a few ex-servicemen in the village but he was the most affectionate and the favourite of the youth and children,” said former sarpanch Bhajan Ram. Since the family received the news of Tilak’s death at around 7 pm on Tuesday, the village is shrouded in gloom.
“Our last contact on telephone was three days ago,” said the soldier’s elder son, Varinder Singh. “He would never tell us his location, so committed he was to work,” he added.
The family doesn’t have the details of his final encounter but remembers that he was once a key member of the advance special security team of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“Because of his important job, intelligence people would visit the village and inquire about him,” said the sarpanch.
His body is expected to reach the village on Thursday afternoon.
Nawanshahr deputy commissioner Anandita Mittra said the funeral would be held with full administrative honours.