Manjit Singh of 6 Dogra had told his family he'd be home on Friday, but only the news of his death came.
He was one of the 20 soldiers killed in a militant ambush in Manipur on Thursday, 80 kilometres from northeast state capital Imphal. His family at Akhvana village on the Pathankot-Madhopur defence road might get his body by Sunday. "Manjit is flying home… in a coffin wrapped in Tricolour," murmured Sham Singh, his father, adding: "He has made the family proud by sacrificing his life for the country. Army officers tell me he took many bullets in the head."
One of the soldier's colleagues, Raju, who is from the neighbouring village of Channi and also posted in Imphal, survived the attack, as he was in another vehicle in the ambushed convoy. "He called me up to tell us about the tragedy but we didn't believe him until we had heard it from the army," said Sham Singh. Manjit Singh's mother, Tripta Devi, and grandmother, Darshana Devi, are inconsolable. It was only two years ago that they had got the soldier married.
His sister, Shivani, says her brother was brave and must have fought back the terrorists. "He was good at cricket," said Vinod Kumar, a close friend, "we'll miss his company in the field." Manjit's brother is also in the army. The news has reached him at his high-altitude post in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pathankot deputy commissioner Sukhvinder Singh said the administration would extend all required help to the bereaved family.