Two years old Shagun Raj is too young to comprehend what tragedy has befallen on the family as her father Lance Naik Kuldeep Raj, the sole bread winner in the family was one amongst the 18 soldiers who attained martyrdom in the militant ambush in Manipur on Thursday.
She is hardly able to understand why the ladies from the village are trying to console her mother and why her mother has been crying endlessly for the past four days.
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Today when the pyre of Lance Naik Kuldeep Raj was lit his relatives were trying to console his widow Gayatri Devi who had been waiting for his return to carry out some repair work at their ancestral house in the Burn village in Gharota area of Jammu.
“There was a family function and we had to carry out some repair work in the house, he had told me that his unit was moving to Chandigarh shortly after which he would come and carry out the repair work,” Gayatri Devi said with tears rolling down her cheeks.
She said that though the news of the martyrdom of her husband came as a rude shock to the family but still she feel proud to be the wife of a man who laid down his life while defending the honour and integrity of the country.
“I am honoured, indeed proud to be his wife. If I had a son I would have sent him to join the army as well, but I will motivate my daughter to follow the footsteps of her father,” she said.
A pall of gloom descended in the village as soon as the mortal remains of the martyred soldier draped in tri-colour reached his village.
“He was really a brave soldier who in the past has served at various places in Jammu and Kashmir also; he used to tell us how he had fought with terrorists in the state. We are saddened as not only we have lost a friend but the country has lost a brave son,” Mukesh Kumar a local resident said.
He said that Kuldeep would have given a “befitting” reply to the militants had they not targeted the vehicle in a “coward” manner and given a chance to fight back.
Jammu based defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta said, “The country is indebted to the brave soldiers who laid down their lives for the country. They have attained martyrdom in line of their duty keeping the traditions and ethos of the army high,” Jammu based defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta
Kuldeep Raj was amongst the 18 soldiers of 6 Dogra infantry Battalion and one amongst the six from Jammu who lost their lives on June 4, when army trucks were attacked with ‘Lathod guns’ and grenades by suspected terrorists of NSCN (Khaplang) in Moltung area of Chandel district in Manipur.
Meanwhile, the last rites of all the six soldiers who lost their lives in the ambush were performed with full
military honours at their native places.
“The last rites of Naib subaidar Ram Singh, Havaldar Satpal Bhasin, Havaldar Sunil Kumar Sharma, Havaldar Randeep Singh, Sepoy Vijay Kumar including Kuldeep Raj were also performed at their native villages, with full military honour,” the spokesman said.