Three jawans of the district martyred in the Manipur ambush on Thursday were cremated with full military honours here on Sunday.
Bodies of havildar Prakash Chand, 36, a resident of Chaut village in Siyun; sepoy Manoj Kumar, 31, of Maseran village; and sepoy Vikas Bhardwaj, 26, of Patanu village in Chauntra, reached Padhar at 8am.
Thereafter they were taken to the soldiers' villages where the air was filled with shrieks and screams as the kith and kin of the soldiers saw their sons for the last time. Villagers, army officers, ex-servicemen, representatives of the district administration, politicians and state VIPs gathered at the villages to pay respect.
Manoj is survived by his wife Pushpa Devi, son Arnav, 8, daughter Amanat, 6, and mother Krishna Devi. Prakash has left behind his wife Vyasa Devi, son Ankit, 12, daughter Palak, 8, and mother Rupi Devi, while Vikas's is survived by his ex-serviceman father Rakesh Bhardwaj, mother Meera Devi, sister Shivani and grandmother Sakina Devi. He was unmarried and was to turn 27 on June 19.
Minor sons of martyrs Prakash and Manoj - Ankit and Arnav - lit the pyre of their fathers after soldiers of 225 Unit of Alhilal cantonment area of Kangra district performed the last salute.
Those present at martyr Prakash's cremation included Col Harpreet Singh and Capt Parmeshwar Tiwari of 225 Army Unit of Alhilal cantonment area of Kangra district, local MLA and health minister Kaul Singh Thakur, Mandi MP Ram Swaroop Sharma, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Vinay Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party Mandi president Jawahar Thakur. They later visited the families of Manoj and Vikas.
Meanwhile, a press release of the information and public relations department stated that health minister Kaul Singh Thakur had announced an immediate financial relief of `10,000 to each martyr's family and assured the aggrieved family members of every possible help from the state government in the future.
The soldiers were part of a 6 Dogra Regiment team that was ambushed by militants while they were on routine patrolling along Tengnoupal-New Samtal road, about 80 km from Imphal in Manipur. The attack that left 18 dead and 11 injured is being described as the worst casualties the Army has suffered in recent years.
Sisters performs last rites of young soldier
When sepoy Vikas Bhardwaj was cremated, it was his younger sister Shivani Bhardwaj who performed the last rites, even as his sobbing father Rakesh Bhardwaj and mother Meera Devi stood traumatised. Villagers said Shivani was the first female in Patanu village of Jogindernar sub-division to have performed the last rites.