Nation unites in paying tribute to slain security personnel

Some held their tears while others were inconsolable as coffins of security personnel killed in Pathankot terror strike reached home on Monday for last rites.

Ambala/Bengaluru/Shimla: Some held their tears while others were inconsolable as coffins of security personnel killed in Pathankot terror strike reached home on Monday for last rites, which were performed with full military honours.

Breaking the tradition, the daughters of two slain officers gave shoulder to their father's coffin. Slogans of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' rent the air as the body of Garud commando Gursewak Singh, draped in the tricolour, reached his native Garnala village near Ambala, while the family members of the young Sikh, who was married in November, were inconsolable.

Haryana Ministers Anil Vij and Abhimanyu were present to pay tributes along with senior officers from the Air Force, besides personnel from the army, police and civil administration.

The body of Lt Colonel E K Niranjan, a bomb expert with the National Security Guard who was killed while defusing a grenade at the scene of the terror attack at Pathankot IAF base, was brought to Bengaluru from where it was to be taken to his hometown Palakkad in Kerala. Teary-eyed people filed past the body as the martyr's family members sat near it.

"He was always interested in the army. I am proud of his sacrifice," Niranjan's father Sivarajan said. Niranjan's sister said, "I look at him as Arjuna who fought for his karmabhoomi." He hailed from Palakkad in Kerala and is survived by his wife Dr Radhika and a 18-month-old daughter. Fellow army officers and many prominent and eminent personalities paid tributes to the martyr at his residence.

Thirty two-year-old Niranjan, whose family stays in Bangalore, was commissioned in the Engineers Regiment of the Army in 2004. Niranjan, head of the elite bomb squad of the NSG, was killed while defusing an IED at Pathankot IAF base, yesterday.

He was among seven security personnel killed in the terrorist attack there. In Gurdaspur, Punjab, scores of mourners gathered at the house of Subedar Fateh Singh, 51, a shooter who had won Commonwealth medals.

Singh's daughter Madhu joined the soldiers in carrying the body to the cremation ground.

"What my father has done today, I don't think anything can match it. I am proud of my father," Madhu said. "We were at the air base when the attack took place," she said. Singh's wife, daughter and son had come to visit him.

Before leaving the quarters, Singh told his wife that he was going to get some documents signed after which they would go home. "My father snatched the gun from that man and shot him," she said. 

In the same district, rich tributes were also paid to another martyr from Defense Security corps Havildar Kulwant Singh, who was consigned to flames with full military honors at his Chak Sharif village.

The IAF and military personnel fired in air and reversed their arms as a mark of respect to the departed soul.

Two brave soldiers from Himachal Pradesh-- Havildar Sanjeevan Singh Rana (50) of Siyun village in Kangra district and Havildar Jagdish Chand (58) of Gola village in Chamba district-- were cremated with full state honours at their respective native places today. Gloom descended on the villages and thousands of people including army jawans, ex-servicemen and villagers from adjoining areas attended the funeral.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today announced financial assistance of Rs 20 lakh each to next of kin of the deceased.

Lance Naik Mool Raj's body reached his Jakh village in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir. He was cremated with full military honours. Mool Raj, father of two had fallen to the bullets of terrorists in Pathankot, just a day after he returned to join his duties after celebrating the New Year with his family.

Before returning to join his duties in Pathankot, he took promise from his children that one day they would make him feel proud of them.

"Instead he made us proud! Though the lacuna that his absence created in our life will never be filled, but we are proud to have a father like him," said Asish Kumar Mooj Raj's son.

"He was home to celebrate the New Year with his family and returned to join his duties in Pathankot on January 1. Who knew this would be his last visit", Pawan Kumar, younger brother of the martyr said.

"You laid down your life for the nation... we are proud of you papa," said his daughter Pooja Devi. Pooja, his daughter and a college student, gave a shoulder to the body of her father.

"I am proud of you dad and want that every child should get a brave father like you", she said.

"Our father always wanted us to do something big in life, we will follow his footsteps and join the army and serve the motherland as our father did in his life and his death," Ashish said.

Gayatri Devi, the widow of the fallen warrior says that she has been lucky to have married a man who never backed away from his duties and served his motherland till his last breath.

"Earlier he belonged to us, but now he is belongs to the entire nation. I am proud of him that he laid down his life to save the lives of 1.25 billion people of this nation," she said. Four terrorists have been neutralised in the operation at the Pathankot air base after the Saturday attack.

One Garud commando, one NSG officer and five personnel of Defence Security Corps (DSC) were martyred. Seventeen security personnel were also injured.