On Saturday evening, 21-year-old Virat Shukla got a call from Srinagar. It was his father, CRPF sub-inspector Sahab Shukla. He had called to ask Virat what preparations the family had made to celebrate the marriage anniversary of his elder son Saurabh. Two hours later, Virat got another call from Srinagar. This time, it was a circle officer, who informed him that his father, who joined his new posting just four days ago, had died in a militant attack.
A native of Gorakhpur’s Majhgawan village, Sahab (52) was killed while two others were injured on Saturday when militants opened fire on a CRPF vehicle at Athwajan, on the outskirts of Srinagar. The Lashkar-e-Toiba had claimed responsibility for the attack.
“I immediately informed my elder brothers. We made a few calls to crosscheck the information. After getting a confirmation, we informed other members of the family,” said Virat, who is pursuing a polytechnic course.
Sahab, who joined the CRPF in 1985, was transferred to Srinagar recently. He was earlier posted at Tihar jail in New Delhi. He is survived by his wife Shobha and four sons, one of whom got married a month ago.
“Father came home in May and stayed till June 16. He left for Delhi to collect some documents from Tihar jail, where he was posted earlier. From there, he went to Panthachowk outpost in Srinagar. He joined his new posting on June 20. On Saturday, at around 5 pm, he called me to find out what preparations have been made for Saurabh’s marriage anniversary. He also spoke to my mother,” said Virat.
Earlier in the day, Sahab’s family had declared they would not perform his last rites till Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited them. They conveyed this to senior district administrative officials, who visited their home on Sunday morning. However, later in the day, they changed their mind. “Chief minister called me and gave assurance to come to my house soon. Following his assurance, we decided to perform the last rites on Monday morning,” said Virat.
Amrendra Verma, sub-divisional magistrate of Bansgaon, Gorakhpur, confirmed that the body arrived in Gorakhpur on Sunday evening. “The body has reached Gorakhpur this evening and is being sent to his native village. Chief minister has spoken to the family members, who have agreed to go ahead with the last rites as CM has assured them that he would visit them soon,” he said. The state government also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 20 lakh for Sahab’s wife and children and Rs 5 lakh for his parents.