Special Police Officer Bilal Ahmad Magray of the J&K Police was a daredevil who sacrificed his life in the line of duty. His mother received the Shaurya Chakra with grief and pride.
Jammu and Kashmir Special Police Officer Bilal Ahmad Magray's mother Sara Begum gasped for breath in anguish as she received the Shaurya Chakra at Rashtrapati Bhavan last evening.
The mother's grief was heartbreaking for all who watched the solemn ceremony.
Like the next of kin of other martyrs in the hall, she had travelled from her home to the nation's most famous residence to receive the medal in what must be the hardest journey of their lives.
The defence minister consoled her and the accompanying security personnel gently placed her hand on her shoulder as a grateful nation honoured her son's supreme sacrifice.
SPO Bilal Magray was known to be a daredevil police officer and a volunteer of similar operations in the past.
Survived by a grieving mother and a brother, he had volunteered to go into a house to evacuate trapped civilians and neutralise terrorists.
The brave officer was part of a special joint operation comprising more than 250 security personnel launched after information was received about the presence of terrorists inside a house in Baramulla on August 20, 2019.
The house was located in a heavily built-up area with small lanes. Confined spaces and narrow approach lanes make it near impossible for access to bulletproof vehicles.
As SPO Magray entered the house with another colleague Sub Inspector Amardeep Parihar, terrorists hiding inside lobbed grenades and fired indiscriminately.
Both policemen suffered serious injuries, but evacuated the civilians to safety.
The buddy pair of SI Parihar and SPO Magray then re-entered the house and continued firing at the terrorists. It was due to this valiant effort that one terrorist was eliminated and the rest could not escape the cordon.
Unfortunately, SPO Magray was fatally struck by a terrorist, but the buddies continued to fight till they exhausted their ammunition and lost consciousness due to excess bleeding.
SPO Bilal Ahmad Magray fought to his last bullet and last breath.
Sub Inspector Amardeep Parihar was admitted to the Army Hospital and survived. He was awarded the President's Medal for gallantry on Independence Day.
A terrorist named Momin Rasool Gojri from Jaish-e-Mohammad was killed, two surrendered. The fourth accomplice was arrested a day later.
His brothers in arms in the operation which included officers and men from the Indian Army and the J&K director general of police attended his funeral.
"It is numbing when you lose a colleague who is part of the same operation. The only thing you think is that it could have been anyone of us," says a soldier who participated in the operation.
"You analyse how it could have been done better and pray for the departed soul. But as is the case with everything else, time makes things better.
Salute to SPO Bilal Ahmad Magray and to all the valiant men who made the supreme sacrifice in serving the country.
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com