Monday, January 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Funeral sparks anti-Pak sentiments
From Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

BHONDSI (Gurgaon), Jan 21 — Pratibha (11) and Satyender (8) had a promise from their father, Subedar Kailash Singh Chhoker, of 81 Field Regiment posted in the Dabar Sector in Jammu and Kashmir that he would meet them soon. His station leave had been sanctioned. He was returning from Srinagar to Jammu from where he was to proceed on leave. However, his dead body arrived at his native village here this morning in the midst of shell-shocked relatives and family members.

Subedar Chhoker was one of the six Army personnel who lost their lives in Awantipora in the valley, as the military vehicles in which they were travelling were targets of landmine blasts, orchestrated by the Pak-inspired militants on January 18.

Hundreds of people from Bhondsi and the surrounding villages paid their respects to the martyr. They accompanied the hero in his last journey, with continuous outbursts of anti-Pakistan slogans rending the air. The stretch of about half a kilometre on the Sohna-Gurgaon road from this village to the public cremation ground was full of people. The Deputy Speaker of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha, Mr Gopi Chand Gehlot, the president of the Punjab Rajput Sabha, Capt Vikram Singh, the local Congress MLA, Rao Dharam Pal and the local BJP MP, Mrs Sudha Yadav, were part of the funeral procession.

He was cremated with state and military honours.

The pall of gloom in the village elicited the rawest of the pathos among the gathering in the midst of sobs of Pratibha and Satyender, two of the three siblings. Till the body arrived, the relatives tried hard to impress upon Satyender that his father was not dead. However, the gloominess in the ambience gave him the gut feeling that something was wrong. He was sobbing, whimpering, with nervousness in his eyes, without exactly being sure of the reason.

But all hell broke loose when the body of the hero was finally shown to the family members. The inconsolable Pratibha kept on saying incoherently that the Pakistanis had meted out the worst form of cruelty on her father. She urged upon the colleagues of her father, who had come with the dead body, to wipe out Pakistan from the world map. She vowed to take revenge.

The residents of the village, which has a large number of serving and retired servicemen, were apparently outraged at the cruelty of the militants. Emoted Capt Udaivir Singh (retd): “There was no point in halting our offensive against the perpetrators and purveyors of crime against humanity.”

Subedar Rajinder Singh, of the same regiment of Subedar Chhoker, said the militants had blown up two military vehicles through land mines near the bridge at Awantipora. Subedar Chhoker was in the front vehicle. He died on the spot.

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