The bodies of two soldiers, who died in an avalanche in Gurez and Machhil sectors of Jammu and Kashmir, were cremated on Wednesday with full state honours at their native villages in Panchmahals and Bhavnagar districts. Sunil Patel (24), who hailed from Orvada village in Panchmahals, and Deva Parmar (26), from Karmadiya village in Bhavnagar, died in the avalanche on January 28. Their bodies were brought late last night to Vadodara airport in an IAF plane from Delhi. Vadodara Mayor Bharat Dangar received their bodies and paid homage. Later, they were kept in cold storage at SSG hospital.
Since early morning on Wednesday, hundreds of people from the nearby villages started gathering at Daruniya village in Godhra taluka where the India Army chopper had to land with the mortal remains of Patel. At 8.15 am, the bodies of two soldiers arrived at Daruniya. They were received by Jaydrathsinh Parmar, state minister for roads & buildings, higher & technical education, and other local leaders. Over five thousand people were present at the helipad. From there, Patel’s body was taken to his native village Orvada and Deva Parmar’s body to Bhavnagar. “At Orvada, Patel was was given the guard of honour and his last rites were performed,” said P Bharathi, District Collector, Panchmahals.
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Thousands of people from villages in Godhra and Devgadh Baria talukas arrived at Orvada to pay homage to Patel. They included local BJP leaders and members of various taluka panchayats from Panchmhals district. “C K Raulji, Congress MLA from Godhra, also attended the funeral and paid homage to Patel,” said Arvind Singh, vice-president, Godhra APMC, who attended the funeral.
As the vehicle carrying Deva Parmar’s coffin reached his village, hundreds of youths who had come to Karmadiya raised slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Devabhai tum Amar Raho. Local MLA Keshubhai Nakrani and president of Bhavnagar district panchayat, Sanjaysinh Sarvaiya, were among those who attended the funeral of the soldier. His body was consigned to fire amidst Army jawans firing their guns in his honours.
The son of a cattle-herder, Deva Parmar had joined the Army around six years ago. He had got married a year ago and his wife, Gauri, is pregnant, sources close to the family said. Deva Parmar’s elder brother is also a cattle-herder. Bhavnagar district panchayat announced Rs 50,000 ex gratia to the kin of the soldier. “Bhavnagar has lost a braveheart. As a token of support, the district panchayat will give Rs 50,000 ex gratia to Deva Parmar’s family,” president Sarvaiya announced.