Amid the pall of gloom that descended on Garili village in Kangra district, the steady stream of mourning villagers who bid a tearful adieu to Lance Naik Rajneesh Singh,35, took pride in the fact that one of their own had sacrificed his life for the country. His funeral, held three days after he was killed in an ambush by insurgents in Manipur's Chandel district, was attended by hundreds of locals as well as outsiders.
Singh's body, covered with the tricolour, was taken by pall bearers in the morning to the village crematorium, where he was cremated with full state and military honours in the presence of administrative officials and local politicians including Dehra MLA Ravinder Singh Ravi, Jaswan Pragpur legislator Vikram Thakur and former minister Ramesh Dhawala. Kangra deputy commissioner Ritesh Chauhan, superintendent of police Abhishek Dular and subdivisional magistrates from Dehra and Jawalmukhi laid the wreath on behalf of the state government. The fallen soldier's elder son, Sujal, lit the pyre.
Singh, who is survived by his wife Smita Kumari and two sons, was the family's sole breadwinner. His parents died a few years ago. "Rajneesh gave his life to a cause that the state and the country are proud of," said his youngest brother, Ravinder Singh, who joined the army in 2000.
Singh had come home about two months ago before his battalion, 6 Dogra Regiment, was shifted to Manipur. He was driving the vehicle that came under a terrorist attack on the fateful day.