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In the line of duty: Stories of the 40 CRPF men killed in Pulwama terror attack

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 16-02-2019
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Jammu and Kashmir to Kerala, IP to Maharashtra; 40 CRPF personnel are from 16 states — and an entire nation.


Shyam Babu, 32, Constable, Kanpur Dehat

Around 10 pm on Thursday, Shyam Babu’s father, Ram Prasad (60), was informed that the CRPF constable had been killed in Pulwama. He leaves behind his wife, Rubi Devi (29), five-year-old son Ayush, and six-month-old daughter Ayushi.

“He got married around six years ago. He got his first posting in 2005… The construction of his house was going on, and he came home on leave for 45 days last December. He joined duty on January 29, but came on leave again on February 1. When he left on February 10, we did not know it was the last time we would see him,” said Pranshu, Babu’s nephew.

Complete coverage: Pulwama terror attack

Ajit Kumar Azad, 32, Constable, Unnao

“The grief is immense. But my son gave up his life for the country, and I am proud of that,” said Ajit Kumar Azad’s father Pyare Lal, 69, a retired Income Tax official.

“Since his first posting in 2007, he would often say that one day we would get to hear that he had given up his life for the country. There were times when I asked him to leave the job, but he always said that was what he wanted to do. He came on a month’s leave in January and went back on February 10. He said he would be back in June,” he said.

Ajit was the oldest of five brothers. He is survived by his wife, Meena (28), and two daughters, Isha (9) and Shreya (7). “My father was a good man and he also taught us good things… not to fight, to respect our elders,” said Isha. She said he wanted her to be a doctor, while he wanted her sister to join the Army. “We will both join the Army school,” she said.

Amit Kumar, 22, Constable, Shamli

On Thursday evening, when Pramod Singh saw the terror attack report on news channels, he did not know his younger brother Amit was also in that bus. “Today morning, I was shocked to know that Amit was killed… We still can’t believe Amit is no more,” said Pramod, who works in a private firm. The family says it received information about his death from a CRPF officer posted in J&K.

A resident of Railpar area in Shamli, Amit joined the CRPF in 2017. “He was the only person in our family to join the security force. He was an inspiration for the boys in our family,” said Arjun Singh, Amit’s other brother. He said Amit had come home on a 15-day leave and returned on February 12 to join duty. “We last spoke to him yesterday and he asked about all family members,” he said.

Pradeep Kumar, 38, Constable, Shamli

A resident of Banat in Shamli, Pradeep is survived by wife Sharmistha Devi and sons Siddharth, an Intermediate student, and Vijayant, a Class IX student. “We came to know about his death late yesterday from a CRPF officer. Before that, I was checking news channels to see if my father was also in the bus. We made several calls to J&K but no one had confirmed it then,” said Siddharth.

Pradeep had joined the CRPF in 2003. His elder brother, Amit Kumar, retired from the Army this month.

“My father used to regularly encourage youths to join the security forces. On February 12, my father left home after a 15-day leave. Yesterday, he called us to know about our well-being. We did not know then that it was the last time we would talk to him,” said Siddharth.

Pradeep Singh, 35, Constable, Kannauj

Pradeep last spoke to his family on Wednesday morning, when he was about to leave for Srinagar from Jammu. “Later in the evening, we came to know about his death,” said Pradeep’s cousin Neeraj Yadav. Pradeep, who hailed from Azan village in Kannauj, is survived by wife Neeraj Devi and daughters Supriya (11) and Sona (3).

“Pradeep joined the CRPF in 2003 but because of some reasons he could not be promoted. He had taken a bank loan to build his house in Kannauj. He repaid some part of the loan, but his wife, Neeraj Devi, will have to pay the rest,” said his cousin. Neeraj Devi does not have a job.

Pradeep left home on February 10 after a month’s leave, said Neeraj. 

Vijay Kumar Mourya, 38, Constable, Deoria

After news of the blast came on news channels, Vijay’s family made several calls to his CRPF friends, but no one gave a specific reply. “Vijay’s family finally came to know about his death in the evening. They got a call from a CRPF officer posted in J&K,” said Vijay’s brother-in-law Balmiki Kushwaha.

A resident of Bhatni in Deoria, Vijay, who joined the CRPF in 2008, is survived by his wife Vijay Laxmi and two-year-old daughter Aradhya. “Vijay left home on February 9 after a 10-day leave. He last spoke to his wife yesterday,” said Balmiki.

Pankaj Kumar Tripathi, 26, Constable, Maharajganj

Pankaj Tripathi called up his wife, Rohini, around 10 am on Thursday. Hours later, the family learnt about the Pulwama terror attack from news channels. His cousin, who lives with the family, said they immediately called up Pankaj’s senior to ask if he was in the bus. The senior could not confirm immediately, but later called up Rohini to give her the news.

Pankaj is survived by Rohini and their son Prateek, 3. His father is a farmer. The family said he had come home in November on leave.

Ramesh Yadav, 26, Constable, Varanasi

Ramesh Yadav was home for a week, and returned to J&K on Tuesday. Kanhaiya, his elder brother who works with a private firm and is now the family’s sole earning member, said their father gave up farming a few years ago as his advanced age could not keep up with the toil.

Ramesh is survived by his wife, Renu, and son Ayush, 2. Kanhaiya said they learnt about the tragedy when CRPF officers called them up around 9 pm on Thursday.

Mahesh Kumar, 26, Constable, Prayagraj

Mahesh Kumar had come home on a week’s leave and left for Jammu on Monday. His brother-in-law, Anil Kumar, said that Mahesh’s father, an autorickshaw driver in Mumbai, is yet to get home. Mahesh’s younger brother and sister are still in school. The family said he had last called up home a couple of days ago, when he spoke with his wife, Sanju Devi. They learnt about the blast, and Mahesh’s death, when the CRPF sent officers to their home, Anil said. Mahesh and Sanju Devi got married in 2011, and have two sons: Samar, 6, and Sameer, 5.

Awadhesh Kumar Yadav, 30, Head Constable, ChandaulI

Awadhesh Kumar Yadav, who was home on leave, had left to rejoin duty on February 11. On Thursday morning, he spoke with his wife, Shilpi. He told her he was in the bus, and would call her up later. But it was his colleague, also from the same village, who called up the family much later, to inform them about his death.

Awadhesh is survived by his wife and two-year-old son.

Ram Vakeel, 37, Head Constable, Mainpuri

Ram vakeel left home on February 10 and had his last conversation with his wife Geeta Devi (35) over the phone a few days ago. Vakeel is also survived by three children — Rahul (10), Arpit (8) and Ansh (2). All three study at the Kendriya Vidyalaya in Etawah.

His cousin, Adesh Kumar, a police inspector in Agra, said his father, Sharman Lal, had died in an accident five years ago.

Koushal Kumar Rawat, 47, Constable, Agra

Rawat’s brother Kamal (40) said he spoke to him over the phone on Wednesday. “He had told me that he had been transferred and that was about to reach his post,” Kamal said. He was earlier posted at Siliguri.

Koushal last came home in October for 10 days. He is survived by wife Mamata Rawal (47) and three children — Apoorva (18), Abhinav (21) and Vikas (20).


V V Vasantha Kumar, 42, Constable, Wayanad

Before boarding the bus from Jammu to Srinagar early on Thursday, V V Vasantha Kumar called up his mother, Santha, and told her that he was going to join a new battalion in Srinagar. He promised to call her again on reaching Srinagar.

“After we heard about the attack, his wife, Sheena, tried to call him up several times. Early this morning, one of his colleagues called up the family… An hour later, we got the official confirmation,” said Usha Kumari, a neighbour.

Earlier this month, Kumar, a resident of Lakkidi village in Wayanad district, had come home on leave for five days. Her returned to Jammu on February 8.

“He joined the CRPF in 2001. He had spoken to us about his plan to retire after two years,” said Kumari. Kumar is survived by his wife and two school-going children. “The loss of our family member is painful, but we are proud that he died for the country,” said his cousin, Sanjeevan.


Rohitash Lamba, 28, Constable, Jaipur

Rohitash Lamba became a father on December 10. “He couldn’t get leave then, but he came home on January 16 and left on January 31. The child is just two months old, and his father has been taken away from him,” said Rohitash’s father, Babu Lal Lamba.

“We came to know about the attack through TV channels. Later in the evening, some officials phoned us and informed us about his death,” said Babu Lal. “He had said he would try to come home for Holi. Now he will never come home again,” he said. Rohitash is survived by his wife, Manju Devi, and son, Dhruv.

Narayan Lal Gurjar, 40, Head Constable, Rajsamand

Narayan Lal Gurjar left home earlier this month after spending about a month’s leave at home — in Binol village of Rajsamand district. His brother Govardhan said, “We are proud of his sacrifice but we want badla (revenge).”

Narayan is survived by wife Mohani, daughter Hemlata, 14, and son Mukesh, 12 . Since Thursday’s attack, a video is being shared on social media in the area. In it, Narayan is heard saying, “In the last three years, you have seen how we are losing many of our colleagues to martyrdom in J&K… I have spent around 15 years (in service), out of which I have spent nine (years) in J&K. But it’s not an issue — everyone has his own luck and duty, (and) I am not troubled by that.”

Hemraj Meena, 44, Head Constable, Kota

Hemraj is survived by wife Madhu, two sons and two daughters. His daughter Rina (18), is a BA first-year student, Antima (15) is in Class IX, Ajay (12) is in Class VII and Rishabh (4) in primary school.

“Rina got a call on Thursday evening from an officer, who told her that her father had died. I had to lie to her and tell her it wasn’t true. But this morning, politicians and mediapersons started dropping by and everyone came to know,” said Hemraj’s elder brother Rambilas. “We want India to give a strong reply,” he said.

Jeet Ram, 30, Constable, Bharatpur

Vikram Ram, younger brother of Constable Jeet Ram, said they had not told their parents — father Radhey Shyam and mother Gopa — about his death.

“We were watching the news when his (Jeet Ram’s) name flashed on the TV screen… we couldn’t believe it. Around midnight, CRPF officials called up… We haven’t told our parents yet. They are old…they will know once his body arrives tomorrow,” he said. Vikram said Jeet and his wife Sundari have two children: an 18-month-old daughter and another child who is four months old.

Bhagirath Singh, 26, Constable, Dholpur

The son of a farmer, Bhagirath joined the CRPF six years ago. His brother is in the police force and is posted in Uttar Pradesh. He is survived by wife Ranjana, a three-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter.

People in his village said he was home last week and left to join duty earlier this week. For his friends, the memories of him going back to work after spending quality time with them are still fresh.


Kulwinder Singh, 26, Constable, Anandpur Sahib

Constable Kulwinder Singh left home on Sunday, after a 10-day leave to attend a cousin’s wedding. His own wedding was scheduled for November this year, his cousin, Kirandeep Singh, said. Although Kulwinder got engaged three years ago, Kirandeep said he first wanted to renovate the family house.

“The renovation work was completed about two months ago, and the house is left to be whitewashed. At 8 am on Thursday, I had a minute’s phone conversation — Kulwinder asked me to get the number of someone who does whitewashing… When I called him at 3.50 pm, his phone was switched off,” he said. Kulwinder’s father Darshan Singh is a truck driver, his mother Amarjit Kaur a homemaker.

Jaimal Singh, 44, Head Constable, Moga

Head Constable Jaimal Singh had called up wife Sukhjit around 8 am on Thursday. “He told me that since another driver was on leave, he was filling in for him… When he told me he was driving to Srinagar, I was worried, but he had promised to call back,” Sukhjit said. The call never came. “Our son was born 18 years after our marriage… He loved our son the most in this world,” she said.

Jaimal’s father, Jaswant Singh, a pathi (Sikh priest) in the village, said, “My son is gone when I need him the most… nothing is being done on the ground for the dignity of our soldiers.”

Sukhjinder Singh, 32, Constable; Tarn Taran

Sukhjinder Singh had recently returned to duty after celebrating Lohri after the birth of his first child, born eight years after marriage, Gurjant Singh, his elder brother said. “He was so happy — his prayers for a child had been answered and he was making future plans. He had four years of service left, and wanted to settle in Canada after retirement,” Gurjant said.

His father, Gurmej Singh, said, “We have lost everything…it’s all over.” “I last spoke to him before he sat in that bus. He promised to call me after reaching his destination… the CRPF informed us about his death around 10 pm,” said Gurjant.

Maninder Singh Attri, 27, Constable, Gurdaspur

Maninder Singh Attri had joined the CRPF a year-and-a-half ago. His younger brother is also in the paramilitary force. Maninder had reported back on duty two days ago. His father, Satpal Attri, a retired government employee, still remembers his son’s “happy face” on his last day at home. “I had made tea for him. He was very happy and promised that he would be back soon,” he said.

The family was informed about Maninder’s death around midnight on Thursday. “Maninder was planning to get married. He was very good in sports,” said Ramesh Kumar, a school friend.


Mohan Lal, early-50s, Assistant Sub Inspector, Uttarkashi

A resident of Barkot village, in Uttarakhand’s Uttarkashi district, Mohan Lal moved with his family to a two-room rented house in Dehradun years ago so that his children could get good education, the ASI’s son-in-law, Sarvesh Kumar, 33, said.

Recalling Mohan Lal as a “jolly man”, Sarvesh said he had visited home in December last year. He had joined the CRPF in 1988. Mohan Lal is survived by his wife Sarita, 50, three daughters, aged 17, 22 and 31, and two sons, aged 14 and 25.

Virendra Singh, early-30s, Constable, Udham Singh Nagar

Virendra Singh had joined duty in J&K on Tuesday, after a 20-day leave. He belonged to the Tharu tribe and was the youngest of three brothers.

Virendra’s elder brother, Jai Ram Singh, who retired from the BSF, said, “I am proud of my brother. He laid down his life for the country. But the government must avenge his death.” Virendra is survived by his wife Renu, 31, daughter Roohi, 5, and son Vyan, 2.


Sanjay Rajput, 45, Head Constable, Buldhana

Sanjay Rajput, a resident of Malkapur in Buldhana district, joined the CRPF in 1996. Around 1.30 pm on Thursday, he spoke with his nephew, Piyush Bais. That was the last time he spoke with his family. He is survived by his wife, Sushma (38) and sons Jay (13) and Shubham (11).

“It is an irreparable loss and I can’t even imagine the grief of his wife and children. The sacrifice he has made for the country is supreme, but we have lost our loved one… We want the government to find a permanent solution to this issue,” said his brother, Rajesh.

Nitin Shivaji Rathod, 37, Constable, Buldhana

On Thursday morning, a few hours before the attack, Nitin Shivaji Rathod spoke with his wife, Vandana. That was their last conversation. The couple have two children, Jeevan (10) and Jivisha (5).

“I don’t know how to console his wife, children and our parents. I have lost a brother who was always there for me,” said his brother, Praveen. “The enemy is trying to terrorise us through such cowardly acts… We want our leaders to give a fitting reply,” he said. Nitin had rejoined duty on February 11, after spending some time with his family.


Subramanian G, 28, Constable, Tuticorin

Constable Subramanian G had left home on Sunday after a month-long leave, when he was occupied with the medical treatment of his father, V Ganapathi, a farmer. He had called home around 2.15 pm on Thursday, and spoken with his wife, Krishnaveni, 21.

“His last call to me was on Wednesday night, to remind me to take medicines and to insist that I stay away from dust, as I had undergone a cataract surgery last week. His last call to his wife, an hour before his death, was also to remind her of the same — to take care of my eyes,” Ganapathi said.

C Sivachandran, 32, Constable, Ariyalur

About two hours before the attack, C Sivachandran called up his pregnant wife, Gandhimathi. “His wife does not have a job. Both his father and mother are farm labourers. They have no other income… He came home on a month’s leave on January 7. We can’t believe that he is no more,” said Arun, his cousin.

Sivachandran, a resident of Kargudi village in Ariyalur, one of the most backward districts in Tamil Nadu, joined the CRPF in 2010. He also has a two-year-old son.


Vijay Soreng, 47, Head Constable, Gumla

Vijay Soreng visited his home a week ago. “Our father was also with the security forces. My brother too wanted to serve the country. His wife is with the Jharkhand Armed Police in Ranchi,” said his brother, Sanjay.

“We are proud that our brother died serving the country, but at the same time we are upset that the attack could not be prevented,” he said.


Sudip Biswas, 27, Constable, Nadia

Sudip Biswas was his family’s only earning member. His father, Sanyasi Biswas, was a farm labourer. With Sudip joining CRPF in 2014, the family was “slowly coming out of sheer poverty”, and had planned to get him married at the end of this year, his brother-in-law, Samapta Biswas, said.

“He had called me around 10 am, and then at 3.10 pm (on Thursday), when the phone got disconnected in the middle of a conversation…. This morning (Friday), I was informed about the attack,” Sanyasi, 60, said.

Bablu Santra, 39, Head Constable

Bablu Santra was scheduled to be home on March 3, to get his new two-storey house painted. And in another eight months, he was to return home forever.

“He was here in December, and got the construction of the house finished. He had already booked tickets, and was scheduled to come home on March 3. He said he would finish the painting, and then we would all shift… He was scheduled to leave the CRPF in another eight months, when he would have turned 40,” said Bablu’s brother, Kalyan.

“Around 10 am on Thursday, he called me up and asked about the family… That was the last time I heard from him,” said Banamala, his mother. Bablu is survived by his wife, Mita, and daughter Piyal (6).


Maneswar Basumatary, 48, Head Constable, Baksa

On February 4, while leaving home after a month-long leave, Basumatary told wife Sanmati that he would try to get a posting closer home. Hailing from the Bodo community, Basumatary is survived by daughter Didwmsri and son Dhananjoy, both in their 20s.

“I last spoke to him on Thursday. He said they were leaving for Srinagar from Jammu. We often spoke of the dangers of working in J&K. He could have taken early retirement, but said it would not be wise because our children are studying. He said he would try for a posting in Assam,” Sanmati said.


Prasanna Kumar Sahoo, 46, Head Constable, Shikhar village, Jagatsinghpur

Sahoo is survived by his wife, an 18-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son. His daughter, a college student, said she was proud that even in death, her father served the nation. “It is a loss when a father’s hand is no longer over one’s head,” she said.

“He used to empathise with the life of the local people (in J&K),” said his nephew, Sudarshan. “Someone from the CRPF called up (to inform about his death), but my aunt could not understand Hindi. Then we saw the TV channel reports,” he said.

Manoj Kumar Behera, 33. Constable, Cuttack

In December, Manoj Kumar Behera came home on annual leave. He celebrated the first birthday of his daughter, and then left on February 6. “This was his second deployment in J&K,” said his cousin, Dipti Mahapatra.

Behera is survived by his wife and daughter. His father, Jitendra Behera, said Manoj had called up his wife and mother a few hours before the attack. “After hearing about the attack, we tried to call him up, but his phone was switched off,” he said.


Ratan Kumar Thakur, 30, Constable, Bhagalpur

“Around 1.30 pm on Thursday, Ratan called up his wife and said he was on the bus and would reach Srinagar by evening. By around 4 pm, we got a call from the CRPF, asking for Ratan’s phone number. They, however, did not confirm anything… I had just one son. I am sad but proud he gave his life for the country,” said Ram Niranjan Thakur, father of Ratan Kumar Thakur. Ratan, who joined the CRPF in 2011, is survived by his pregnant wife, Ranjnandini Devi, and a four-year-old son, Krishna.

“He had told us that he would spend this Holi with us and help me to find a suitable groom for his younger sister, Neetu. Everything is over now,” said Ram. He said he worked as a labourer and a hawker to support his son’s education. “After Ratan got a job, our economic condition improved,” he said.

Sanjay Kumar Sinha, 45, Head Constable, Patna

Sanjay Kumar Sinha had come home on a month’s leave, and returned on February 8. “He said he would come back home again after 15 days, to look for a suitable groom for his older daughter, Ruby,” said his father Mahendra Singh. “His younger daughter, Tinni, has also completed her graduation,” he said, while his son, Sonu, is in Kota, preparing for the medical entrance exams.

Sanjay’s younger brother, Shanker, is also with the CRPF. “The sacrifice of my son gives me a sense of pride, but the government must avenge the attack,” said Mahendra.


Tilak Raj, 30, Constable, Kangra

Tilak raj had taken leave for six weeks, as he wanted to be home when his wife Savitri, 25, gave birth. Twenty-three days ago, she delivered a son, Vivaan. And on Monday, Tilak Raj left to rejoin duty.

Around 11 am on Thursday, he called up Savitri and said he would call next on Friday morning. Tilak was known in the village, and nearby areas, for his ability to sing Himachali folk songs. He had recorded three songs in the last six months and uploaded them on YouTube, getting total viewership of nearly 2 lakh.


Ashwani Kachhi, 28, Constable, Khudawal village near Jabalpur

“If I were to ever come face-to-face with the enemy, I would not show my back and would rather return home wrapped in the Tricolour,” Ashwani Kachhi told his friends when he came home in October.

The youngest of five siblings, Ashwani joined the CRPF in March 2017. “We were looking for a bride for him. He was planning to take leave around Holi,” his eldest brother Sumat Kumar said. The family owns 1.5 acres of land. Ashwani’s father Sukroo worked as a daily wager while his mother Kaushalya supports the family by rolling bidis.


Naseer Ahmed, 46, Head Constable, Dudasan Bala near Rajouri

Ahmed was among the CRPF personnel who took part in the rescue operations during the 2014 floods in Pulwama. Five years later, he died in a terror attack at the same place.

He is survived by wife Shazia Kousar and two children, Falaq, 8, and Kashes, 6. Ahmed was the youngest among six siblings. His elder brother Siraj Din is in the state police and posted at Jammu. He was planning to settle in the village after seeking premature retirement, said a villager.


H Guru, 33, Constable, Mandya

H Guru had reported for duty in Jammu on February 10, after spending some time at home, in Gudigere village. “He was on his way to Kashmir when he called me on Thursday morning. I could not speak at the time and can only remember telling him to be careful,” said Kalavathi. “I often asked him to leave the force and return home. He would say that he wanted to work for a few more years and serve the country,” she said.

Guru, the oldest of three sons of a dhobi, joined the CRPF in 2011. He had managed to save some money and buy a house a few months before he married last year. “Some of the money came from loans. We don’t know how that will be repaid now,” said Mahadev, a family friend.

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