When militants tried storming the Pathankot Air Force base on 2 January, reportedly, their targets were the high-value assets in the airbase. However, thanks to a group of alert and courageous security personnel, their attempts were foiled. During the fight with the militants, and later, while sanitising the area, several soldiers laid down their lives.
The operation that was still under way three days after the militant assault that killed seven soldiers, wounded 22 and eliminated five attackers, now may jeopardise the endeavour for peaceful talks between India and Pakistan -- especially when the foreign secretaries of the countries are due to meet on 15 January, reported Reuters.
"The attack is a message by Mujahideen (militants) that no sensitive installation of India is out of our reach," said UJC spokesman Syed Sadaqat Hussain in a statement.
Here's a list of some of the security personnel who died battling militants at Pathankot.
Name: Subedar Major Fateh Singh
Ace shooter Subedar Major Fateh Singh was martyred fighting militants who had tried to storm the Pathankot airbase on Saturday. Singh was an international shooter who had brought glory to India by winning gold and silver in big bore shooting (300m) at the first Commonwealth Shooting Championship in New Delhi in 1995. Singh was on duty guarding the airbase with another officer when the militants tried to infiltrate it. A gun-battle ensued which lasted for 20 minutes during which Singh got injured, but managed to kill both the terrorists.
Name: Lt Col Niranjan
Lt Col Niranjan, who was with the National Security Guard, was killed when he was attempting to move the body of a terrorist, reported The Indian Express. The corpse had a IED strapped to it.
An engineering graduate from MVIT College, Bengaluru, he was always keen on joining the armed forces, says his family. "Since his youth, he was interested in the armed forces. He opted for a short service commission, and when we asked why not IAF or Navy, he said he was in love with the olive green,” his father told The Indian Express.
"I called him up at around 5 pm. I was taking my evening walk and wanted to get some information from him. When I called, he said he was engaged in an operation. He said he would call me back,” Sivaranjan added. That call never came. Instead, Niranjan's elder brother, who is with the IAF, called to inform about his brother's death.
"He has made us feel proud but the loss is something we can hardly bear. I still can't imagine what was going through his mind when he went to into defuse a bomb," Niranjan’s sister, Bhagya Lakshmi told The Times of India.
“The country shouldn’t just remember him as a soldier who laid down his life for his country, but also as a man who faced a lot of struggles to achieve his dream,” she said.
Niranjan's family is originally from Palakkad, Kerala, but have been living in Bengaluru for over four decades now. Niranjan is survived by his wife and their two-year-old daughter. The couple used to live in Delhi.
Name: Garuda (Indian Air Force) commando Gursewak Singh
Mortal remains of Garud Commando Gursewak Singh who lost his life in Pathankot attack, brought to Garnala (Ambala) pic.twitter.com/eX85PerHIN— ANI (@ANI_news) January 4, 2016
The newly-married Singh got a call from his wife on Friday evening, when he texted her saying that he would call her back, and that she should go to sleep if he didn't. "Unhone kaha, phone karunga. Par agar phone nahi aaya, to so jaana. Aur phone nahi aaya," said his wife Jaspreet who was still wearing her red wedding choora (bangles) in her hands, whenIE met her.
Gursewak had joined Indian Air Force about six years ago after completing his graduation. He had got married just 45 days ago.
His father, Sucha Singh who is a farmer, said that he received information about Gursewak's martyrdom from his elder son who is an officer in the Army and asserted that he was proud that his son had laid down his life for the country.
Gursewak, who was described as an intelligent and bright youth by his father, had cleared the Air Force exam in the first attempt.
"My boy had gone to serve the nation. I am proud of him. He has done his duty. We are sad too. Our elder son is also in the Army serving the nation. My younger son gave his life for the country. He was always good in studies and always wanted to join the Air Force," Sucha said.
"Legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh was his icon," he added.
Gursewak's cousin Harikrishan Singh said, "He did his engineering in Bengaluru... We have lost one warrior."
Name: Indian Army and DSC officer Havildar Kulwant Singh
A cheerful man, this was the first time that he had got posted in Punjab, close to his family. “He was very happy to get an opportunity to stay close to the family,” his wife, Harbhajan Kaur wept. A poet at heart, his family also said that Singh used to write patriotic songs. He had taken a days off to spend time with his family in December 2015.
Singh had joined the army when he was 19 years old and had joined the DSC in 2004.
Name: Defence Security Corps officer Jagdish Chand
A former army man, Chand was brave and valiant during the Pathankot crisis. According to a report in IE, Chand managed to shoot one of the attackers before being killed by another. Chand, who hailed from Basa village in Himachal Pradesh, was among the first security personnel to engage the terrorists and now is survived by his wife and three children.
Name: DSC officer Havildar Sanjeev Kumar
"I may have lost my son but I can take pride as he fought the terrorists who had a plan to blow up the air force base and destablise the nation. My sympathies for all men who lost their lives and did not allow the Pakistan-backed militants to harm the country. We are waiting for his body so that we could lay him to rest in the national tricolor,” father Rattan Singh said. His family waited for him in the hospital when he was brought there injured, but did not get a chance to see him alive.
(With inputs from PTI and other agencies)
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