Rocky (23), the trooper who stood like a rock between his Border Security Force (BSF) convoy and Pakistani terrorists in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday, is the pride of his Haryana village.
The young and the old in Ramgarh Majra knew him as a compassionate and jovial fauji. Now they salute him as a hero for saving the lives of his colleagues by laying down his own. "That's typical of the man who cared not only for his family but also for other villagers," said a young man.
In the past more than 15 years, Rocky was the only guy from Ramgarh Majra to get a government job. "After every encounter with militants, he'd update the village youth on WhatsApp. The word 'terrorist' used to charge him up for action. 'Main to sirf apne desh ke liye hi hoon (I live only for my country),' he'd say," recalled Manoj, 18. A group of 12 students waiting to give a hero's farewell to Rocky remembered how he'd always motivate them to join the defense forces. He has set us an example of dutifulness, and we are proud of him," said one of the teenagers.
Rocky's family lives in a small, two-bedroom house. His father, Prithi Pal, tills half an acre and his mother, Angrejo Devi, works as a daily wager to support the family. On October 4, his elder brother, Rohit Kumar, is going to take a written test to join the army.
"In November 2013, pursuing BSc from Khalsa College in Yamunanagar, Rocky was selected in the BSF. In real meaning, he was the eldest son to the family, who'd encourage me to crack that test. He was our financial and emotional support," said Rohit, choking with emotion.
The BSF broke the sad news to the father and the brother early Thursday, and they kept it from the mother and the sister until noon. "After reading about Rocky's death in a Hindi newspaper, a few shocked villagers rushed to my wife and daughter. I told them not to believe it; and when they were easy, I let them know," said Prithi.
Rocky's younger sister, Neha, remembered how he had put her in a local private nursing college. "During our last chat on telephone on Monday, he teased me lovingly by asking about my marriage plans. He wished to see the other siblings married first," she said.
The young woman is proud of her brother's brave deed of taking on the heavily armed terrorists to save his convoy under attack. "My brother stood like a rock in that tough situation. The one militant caught alive should get the strictest punishment. All those who stand against death penalty to terrorists should visit the aggrieved family of a dutiful soldier," said Neha.