Before terror killed them in ‘5 minutes,’ they fought it for years in N-E and Valley
2 January 2008
The Indian Express
RAMPUR: At 10 am, as the seven coffins were lined up in a row and jawans and family fought tears, all the talk was about how those killed in yesterday’s terror strike had served in some of the most adverse circumstances in the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir, fighting insurgency and militancy. And that perhaps, it was the “tranquility” of Rampur that made them an easy target in an attack that a top CRPF official called “wouldn’t have lasted more than five minutes.” Consider the profiles of the dead • Colleagues of head constable Afzal Ahmed recalled how more than a year ago, he and other CRPF men were ambushed by Naxalites near near Bokaro in Jharkhand. One jawan died in the attack and a dozen Naxalites were killed. Ahmed’s next posting was at the sensitive Raghunath Temple in Jammu, also the scene of a terror attack in 2002. • Head Constable Rishikesh Rai had served for 26 years, including several in the North- East. Before moving to Rampur, he was posted in Srinagar with the 62nd Unit of the CRPF. He was part of six teams that were rewarded for bravery. On the night of the Jan 1 attack, he was shot dead in the control room itself. He is survived by three schoolgoing daughters. • Ramji Sharan Mishra’s service file still carries a “commendation certificate” from SSP, Ludhiana, from the days of his duty during militancy in Punjab. In his 22 years with the force, he served in the North-East and in the Valley. • Manvir Singh of Baghpat joined the CRPF in 1994. He spent 10 years in the North-East and the Valley. Survived by two daughters and a son, his uncle Ranvir Singh said that Manvir had often referred to Rampur as a “peaceful break” for him. • Anand Kumar Singh, who died in the control room, had served three years in Manipur and Srinagar. • At 22 and with just one year in the CRPF, Vikas Saini was the youngest of the dead. His father Kanwarpal, who travelled from Bahadurpur in Haridwar to claim the body, blamed “negligence of senior officials” for the attack. This Master’s in Political Science had fired 18 rounds at the intruders, one bullet was left in magazine of his gun before he died. • Devendra Kumar, had joined the CRPF along with Saini. The night of the attack, both were posted at the gate. “The thing that rankles us is how the intruders came, killed and managed to escape. The whole operation must have been very swift, it wouldn’t have lasted more than five minutes, according to the version of our jawans,” said Karamvir Singh, IG, CRPF, Bareilly Sector. “It seems it was planned in a way that the attackers knew where to go and had the exact idea where they would find the minimum opposition,” Singh said.