A soldier was killed on Saturday morning as Pakistani troops, after a lull of about 36 hours, resorted to unprovoked firing of mortar shells and small arms along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district.
Identifying the deceased soldier as Lance Naik Sandeep Thapa, 35, from Dehradun, Defence Ministry spokesperson Lt Colonel Devender Anand said in Jammu that Pakistani troops started firing around 6.30 am in Nowshera sector. The Indian Army retaliated befittingly, he added.
Lance Naik Thapa was a fourth-generation soldier from his family, and the first one to die on duty, his father, Bhagwan Singh Thapa, who retired from the Army as a Havildar in 2007, said.
At their home, in Rajawala village of Selaqui area on the outskirts of Dehradun, Thapa senior said he will now groom his grandson, Satvik, who is just over three, to join the Army. “I and my three brothers, my father as well as his four brothers – we are all retired soldiers. Our families groomed generations for the Army,” he said.
Sandeep, he said, had joined the Army in 2003 as Sipahi. Sandeep and his younger brother, Naveen, were both in Gorkha Rifles and posted along the LoC in Rajouri district for the last three years.
Thapa said he saw on TV on Saturday morning that a jawan was injured in firing along the LoC but had no way of ensuring it was his son. “Around 2.30 pm, I received a call from Sandeep’s friend from his unit. He said Sandeep was killed. The Army Headquarters confirmed the news. His body will be brought here on Sunday,” he said.
Thapa said his son had come home on leave in June and left for duty towards the end of the month. “He called up home after reaching Jammu and Kashmir – that was our last conversation with him. Mobile network is not available at the place where he was posted.”
Thapa said as tension gripped J&K and all means of communications were stopped, he and Sandeep’s wife, Nisha, tried to call him several times each day. But in vain.
“We had no contact with him for the last one-and-a-half months,” Thapa said.
He said Sandeep was to retire from Army in 2021 and had started planning about his next job. He was to come home on leave in October for Diwali, Thapa said.
In Jammu, sources said Pakistani troops also targeted residential areas in Nowshera. There were no reports of civilian casualties or damage to property.