Amid the pall of gloom that descended on Basa Gola village in Chamba and Siyunh village in Kangra district, the steady stream of mourning villagers bade a tearful adieu to havildar Jagdish Chand and havildar Sanjeevan Singh Rana, killed in the Pathankot airbase attack.
The funereal gloom was shot through with a palpable spirit of pride and defiance as thousands of mourners converged upon the tiny Basa Gola village, the native place of Defense Security Corps (DSC) personnel havildar Jagdish Chand, 48, one of the first casualties in the attack in the wee hours of Saturday.
Chand, who was among the first security personnel to engage the terrorists, managed to neutralise one of the attackers before being shot dead.
“Serving in the Indian Army is a tradition in our family,” said Chand’s elder brother Budhi Singh, who also retired from the army.
The martyr’s father, Bachiter Singh, is also an ex-serviceman, while his younger brother is a serving soldier.
Chand’s body, covered with the tricolour, was taken by pall bearers in the afternoon to the village crematorium, where he was cremated with full state and military honours in the presence of administrative officials and local politicians, including forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri, Chamba deputy commissioner M Sudha Devi and soldiers from 3/11 Gorkha Regiment and 39 Mountain Division.
The fallen soldier’s son, Rajat, lit the pyre. Chand, who retired from 7 Dogra Regiment and joined the DSC in 2009, is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. He was the family’s breadwinner.
A sea of humanity swooped down on the premises of havildar Sanjeevan Rana, 50, who was critically injured in the terror attack and succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.
“It’s a tragedy not for me but for the nation. I am proud my son sacrificed his life for the nation,” said Rattan Singh, who retired from the army, while trying to hold back tears.
“Pakistan should be given a befitting reply for what it has been doing for years,” he demanded, while reiterating, “I am a proud soldier and want my grandson to also don the olive greens.”
Sanjeevan Rana, who retired from 15 Dogra regiment in 2007 before joining the DSC, is survived by his wife Pinki Devi, a son and two daughters. He, too, was the sole earner in the family. Transport minister GS Bali and social welfare minister Dhani Ram Shandil attended the fallen soldier’s cremation, done with full military honours.
Villagers, kin accuse govt of indifference
Shahpur: Angry villagers and relatives of havildar Sanjeevan Rana, who was killed in the terror attack on Pathankot airbase, posed tough questions to the politicians and the state government for delay in bringing the body.
Shahpur Congress leader and vice-chairman of forest corporation Kewal Singh Pathania, who arrived at the soldier’s house in the afternoon, faced angry questions over the indifference of the state government.
“The family members were running pillar to post to get the body. The government didn’t make any effort to help out the family. Why is our government so indifferent to the soldiers, who laid down their lives for the country?” questioned Onkan Singh Thakur, a close relative of Rana.
He alleged that while the leaders and administrative officials in Punjab had stood by the families of the martyred soldiers, no one from Himachal bothered to do so.
Rana’s father Rattan Singh pointed out to the lapses and security, which cost the family their breadwinner.
“Army uniforms are freely available in the market. The terrorist who killed my son entered the Pathankot airbase in army fatigues. Why can’t the government impose a ban on the sale of army uniforms?” Singh asked.
The family members of Jagdish Chand also rued government apathy. “We had to wait for three days to get the body. Let alone meeting us, the politicians or the administrative officials didn’t even make a call to the aggrieved family in these three days,” said Chand’s elder brother Budhi Singh.
CM announces Rs 20 lakh for kin of slain soldiers
Shimla: Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Monday announced a financial assistance of `20 lakh each to the family members of the deceased soldiers.
The CM and governor Acharya Dev Vrat expressed grief over the death of the two soldiers and said their supreme sacrifices for the sake of the country would always be remembered.
In his message, the chief minister said they sacrificed their lives to maintain the unity, integrity and security of the nation.
Praying for peace to the departed souls, the governor said the nation was indebted to them for their supreme sacrifice.