Srinagar: Army on Sunday paid glowing tributes to its officers who laid down their lives while fighting militants holed up in a multi-storey building near Srinagar since Saturday evening.
Captain Pawan Kumar of Army’s 10 PARA and Captain Tushar Mahajan and Lance Naik (corporal) Om Prakash of 9 PARA were killed as they on two separate occasions on Sunday led crack teams to storm the main block at J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JK EDI) campus at Pampore, 16-km south of summer capital Srinagar, where three militants are hold up since Saturday evening.
The armed standoff began after militant ambushed a CRPF convoy along the Srinagar-Jammu highway and then fled into the main block at the campus. Eleven CRPF men were injured, two of them fatally, in the militant attack. A local resident who worked as a gardener at the campus was also killed in shootout.
A statement issued by Army here said that the 'Balidaan' (sacrifice) is what adorned the proud chests of the slain officers “which they had earned after six gruelling months of probation and special skill training and they truly embodied its spirit.” “The badge signifies committing yourself in form and spirit to the cause of the nation”, it said adding for Captain Kumar and Corporal Prakash “the final call came at Pampore and as it was ingrained in them, they did not think twice before going into a hail of bullets”.
“I had one child and I gave him to the Army- to the nation. No father can be prouder”, this is how Rajbir Singh, headmaster in a senior secondary school from Jind, Haryana reacted when he received the information of his son Captain Kumar’s martyrdom. “No wonder then, where the genes of this bravery, patriotism and selflessness came to Captain Kumar from,’ the Army statement said.
“Keeping the Indian Army ethos aloft, Captain Kumar led his men from the front and indeed drew a fatal volley of fire, which the daring commando and his team quickly retaliated,” the Army said adding that earlier he led the effort to evacuate the students, faculty members and staff trapped at the JKEDI campus. He later succumbed to his grievous injuries “but not before fixing the location of these terrorists thereby facilitating the progress of further operations”.
Incidentally born on the Army Day (15 January) in 1993, this 23-year-old officer “was destined to be a part of it and in the exemplary display of raw courage, leadership par excellence and esprit-de-corps, he has become a part of military folklore”.
The young commando was given a befitting farewell by his comrades in Arms in a solemn ceremony held at Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar which was also attended by officials from J&K police, BSF and CRPF.
“Later in the day, during operations to flush out the terrorists, Lance Naik Om Prakash whose team had closed in on the hiding terrorists, was also injured and later succumbed,” Army said adding that he had been earlier awarded with the "Asadharan Suraksha Seva Praman Patra" by the Prime Minister on Independence Day in 2013 for gallantry in counter terrorist operations.
The 32-year- old corporal Prakash was from Shimla and is survived by his parents, wife and two daughters aged 7 and 3 years. His last rites will be held on Monday, a defence spokesman said. Later during the day on Sunday another Army officer Captain Tushar Mahajan laid down his life while fighting militants.
Paying tributes to the Army martyrs, Lt. Gen. Satish Dua GOC of Srinagar-based Chinar Corps saluted their courage and selflessness and said that their cause will be taken to its logical conclusion. Speaking about Captain Kumar he said, “He had voluntarily taken upon himself to lead his men into this most difficult phase of the operation. His commitment to his men, duty and the uniform he so proudly donned, can be gauged from the fact that despite having been wounded in an earlier encounter with terrorists only last month, he had refused to proceed on sick leave to be with his team for this operation”.
Lt. Gen. Dua added, “They have done the nation proud and the nation salutes them”. The Corps Commander also paid his tributes to the slain CRPF Personnel and JK EDI employee Abdul Gani Mir who lost their lives in militant ambush and subsequent shootout....