The bodies of 14 of the 18 soldiers who lost their lives in an ambush by insurgents in Manipur were brought to the Air Force Station here on Saturday night. The seven martyrs from Himachal Pradesh were honoured before being taken to their native places. The other bodies were flown to Jammu.
“This incident has further strengthened our resolve to wipe out insurgency from the North East. The seven soldiers who sacrificed their lives were working in harsh conditions. I have myself served in Chandel district where the attack took place and the presence of several insurgent outfits amid the harsh terrain makes it difficult for our soldiers. However, the soldiers have not lost their lives in vain and the whole country will remember them for their martyrdom,” said Lt Col KJ Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command . He was addressing mediapersons after the wreath-laying ceremony.
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The aircraft carrying the bodies arrived at the 12 Wing Air Force Station at around 9.45 pm, two hours after the scheduled time. The soldiers from Jammu and Pathankot were flown to Jammu, while the seven soldiers from Himachal Pradesh were honoured at the ‘Yudh Samridhi’ before being shifted to ambulances to take them to various places in Himachal. They were Sepoy Manoj Kumar from Mandi, Havildar Prakash Chand from Mandi, Naik Rajneesh Singh from Kangra, Sepoy Sohan Singh Saini from Sirmaur, Havildar Rajesh Kumar from Bilaspur, Sepoy Vikas Bhardwaj from Mandi and Sepoy Ashok Rana from Sirmaur.
Officers and soldiers from 12 Wing Air Force and Dogra regiment from Chandimandir cantonment, and several retired army officers from the Tricity paid their tributes to the deceased.
Former chief of army staff Col (retd) NC Vij, who also attended the ceremony, said a soldier’s death should not be mourned and the country should be proud of his sacrifice. Himachal Pradesh social welfare and Panchayati Raj minister Col (retd) DR Shandil said the state government would extend all possible help to the families of the deceased and will “stand by them in these difficult times.”