The mortal remains of Naib Subedar Paramjeet Singh, who was killed in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir, were consigned to flames with full military honours at his native Vainpoin village in Tarn Taran on Tuesday.
The 42-year-old soldier, who belonged to the army’s 22 Sikh Infantry, was beheaded on Monday by Pakistani troops, who similarly mutilated the body of Head Constable Prem Sagar of the Border Security Force’s 200th Battalion.
A large number of mourners from his village and surrounding areas, besides his family and friends, paid their last respects to him.
Senior army officers and those from the civil administration were also present as buglers sounded the ‘Last Post’ and the slain soldier was accorded a gun salute.
His body was wrapped in the tricolour and brought for cremation in a bedecked vehicle.
The last rites were held up for a few moments as his relatives remained adamant that they be shown the body. They went ahead with the ceremony after persuasion by civil and army officials.
A Pakistani Special Forces team had on Monday sneaked 250 metres across the Line of Control into the Poonch sector and beheaded the two Indian security personnel.
Singh is survived by his aged parents Udham Singh and Gurinder Kaur, wife Paramjit Kaur and three minor children -- daughters Simardeep Kaur and Khushdeep Kaur, and son Sahildeep Singh, who are aged between 11 and 14.
Shocked by the demise of the soldier, who was to arrive at his village a week later on holiday, his family and friends has demanded a befitting reply be given to Pakistan.
Paramjit Kaur lamented that no senior functionary of the government had come to meet the family or attended the funeral. She also demanded that the Centre should give free hand to army so that Pakistan is taught a stern lesson.
"Our government had once said that if Pakistan kills or beheads our one soldier, as many as ten enemy soldiers will meet the same fate, but what is happening now. If the government cannot teach Pakistan a lesson, then they should allow me to take revenge of my husband’s killing,” Kaur said.
The anger was palpable among the villagers in Tarn Taran, a border district close to the Indo-Pak international border, against Pakistan.
While ‘Shaheed Paramjeet amar rahe’ slogans rent the air, ‘Pakistan murdabad’ slogans were also raised.
Pakistani flags were also burnt at some places in Punjab on Tuesday, including at Ludhiana, where protesters demanded that Pakistan should be paid back in the same coin.
The martyr’s father Udham Singh said he was proud of his son, but wanted that Pakistan be given a befitting reply.
"Their action has caused much pain. They should be taught a lesson," he said.
Paramjeet was the only earning hand in the family. The family lives in a semi-kutcha house.
Struggling to hold back her tears, his daughter Simardeep said she was proud of her father, who had laid down his life for the nation.
Udham said Paramjeet had wanted to give the best possible education to his children and had talked about about renovating his house so his kids could get more space to study and play.
His elder brother Ranjit Singh said the entire village and the country is proud of the sacrifice. He, however, demanded that the government should give the army a free hand to hit back at the enemy.
Ranjit was also critical of the government, saying barring the area MLA ‘who turned up at the last moment for the cremation, the rest had stayed away’.
"My brother has sacrificed his life for the nation and not for his family. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh should have been here today, he has served in the Army and should know the pain we are going through. Not just him, but nobody from the government found time to be with us in this hour of grief,” he told reporters.
A childhood friend of Paramjeet also asked, “Why can’t our government give a befitting reply to Pakistan. Give our Army a free hand. The Sikh Regiment alone is enough to take on Pakistan.”
Earlier, the Army and the BSF bid farewell to the martyred soldiers who were beheaded by Pakistani forces in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.
A wreath-laying ceremony was organised in Poonch in their honour which was attended by top ranking security officials.
IMAGE: A senior army officer pays tribute to the soldiers killed by the Pakistani Army in Poonch during a wreath laying ceremony. Photograph: Umar Ganie/Rediff.com