Two-year-old son lights the pyre of jawan killed in Pulwama encounter

Ajay Kumar was part of the team which was searching for militants after a suicide bombing killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans in Pulwama on February 14.
The funeral of Ajay Kumar, one of the four security personnel killed in an encounter in Pulwama on Feb 18, 2019, at his village, in Ghaziabad, on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.(Sakib Ali / HT Photo)
The funeral of Ajay Kumar, one of the four security personnel killed in an encounter in Pulwama on Feb 18, 2019, at his village, in Ghaziabad, on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.(Sakib Ali / HT Photo)
Published on Feb 20, 2019 01:12 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Ghaziabad | ByPeeyush Khandelwal

Thousands of tearful and grief struck residents from Meerut and Ghaziabad raised chants of ‘Hindustan zindabad’ as two-year-old Aaarav Chaudhary lit the funeral pyre of his 27-year-old father, Ajay Kumar of Rashtriya Rifles, who was killed in a gunbattle with three suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday.

Ajay Kumar’s family is from the village of Basatikri, located on the Ghaziabad-Meerut border near the Upper Ganga Canal. The jawan from 20 Grenadiers was on deputation with the 55 Rashtriya Rifles and was part of the team which was searching for militants after a suicide bombing killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans in Pulwama on February 14.

Ajay was among four army personnel, one of them a major from 55 Rashtriya Rifles, who were killed during nearly 18-hour operation in Pinglena village in South Kashmir.

Security forces also killed three suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad militants during the gun battle. A top commander of the terror outfit who is believed to have played a crucial role in the attack on CRPF convoy was also gunned down.

“The pyre was lit by his only son. He was crying and had no clue about what was happening. Ajay’s wife Priyanka last spoke to her husband over phone on the night of February 17 when he told her that he was going for an operation and will return the next morning. He never returned... Around 11am on February 18, I got a call from an officer of his unit. He asked me whether I heard the news. I said yes,” Vir Pal, Ajay’s father, said.

Read | Army major killed in Pulwama encounter made plans for first anniversary

Besides Ajay, his father also served the 20 Grenadiers and retired as a Naik after nearly 18 years of service. Ajay was the youngest of three siblings. His elder brother Vijay Kumar died in an accident last July.

“After his brother’s death, I used to work in Muradnagar but Ajay told me to be at home and look after our agricultural fields. Ajay had come on one month’s leave and had left home on February 1,” his father said.

“We always told him to try and be safe during operations. But he always told us that he will be safe with his unit,” he added.

A number of retired colleagues of Ajay’s father on Tuesday joined the funeral procession as his body arrived in an army truck to his house and later to the college ground in nearby Patla village for the last rites.

“We want a hospital to be built in memory of Ajay. The nearest hospital is about 13 kilometres from our village,” retired subedar major Umar Jan, a colleague of Ajay’s father, said.

Also Read | Soldier killed in Pulwama encounter leaves behind 10-month-old son

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021