The mortal remains of Major Ashish Dhonchak, who died fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, were consigned to the flames on Friday with full military honours at his native village in Panipat as thousands of mourners joined the grieving family and officers for his final journey.
The body reached his home in the Panipat town this morning and was taken to his native Binjhol village in an Army vehicle where the last rites were conducted after a wreath-laying ceremony and a gun salute.
It took nearly three hours for the funeral procession to cover a distance of about 8 km from the martyr's home in the town to reach his Binjhol village as mourners gathered to bid him a tearful adieu.
Senior Army officials, villagers and scores of others joined the martyr's family members at the funeral.
Major Dhonchak's family had been living in a rented accommodation at Panipat and had planned to shift to a new house in Panipat in October.
The neighbours now say they never knew he would return in a coffin wrapped in the tricolour.
Scores of people turned up on Friday morning at the residence of Major Dhonchak in Panipat when his mortal remains reached. His family members were inconsolable.
Schoolchildren carrying the tricolour were seen on a large stretch of road as the funeral procession moved from his Panipat home to the village.
Patriotic slogans -- 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and 'Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Ashish tera naam rahega' -- rent the air. A large number of women had also turned up along the route and paid their tributes to the soldier.
"We are devastated at the loss but at the same time proud that Major Ashish made the supreme sacrifice for the nation," said an elderly villager.
Major Dhonchak's family includes his wife, a two-year-old daughter and three sisters.
Meanwhile, mortal remains of Colonel Manpreet Singh, who was also killed in the gunfight, reached his hometown in Mullanpur in Mohali district where last rites will be conducted shortly.
Col Manpreet Singh's six-year-old son, wearing an military camouflage, offered a salute as the mortal remains of his father reached home in Mullanpur. The Army officer also leaves behind a two-year-old daughter.
An Army officer was seen holding Col Manpreet's son as the family and others paid their last respects.
Col Manpreet's wife, sister, mother and other family members were inconsolable.
Three Army personnel, including the colonel and the major, and a deputy superintendent of the Jammu and Kashmir Police were killed in the gunfight with terrorists in the higher reaches of the Kokorenag area in the valley on Wednesday.
At Colonel Manpreet Singh's house in Mullanpur, there was a steady stream of mourners.
Earlier in the morning, his wailing mother was seen waiting at the doorsteps for his mortal remains.
A third-generation soldier, Col Singh leaves behind his mother, wife, a two-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son.
The martyr's younger brother was also inconsolable.
Col Singh, the commanding officer of 19 Rashtriya Rifles, Major Dhonchak and Deputy Superintendent of Police Humayun Bhat were critically injured in the gunfight in the Garol area of Anantnag district in the morning hours of Wednesday.
The officers succumbed to injuries during treatment.