A brave and patriotic soldier (1993-2016)

Pawan Kumar hailed from village Badhana in Jind in Haryana state. He was born on 15 January 1993, and graduated from JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University), New Delhi. His father, Rajbir Singh is a school headmaster of a school in Jind. Born on Army Day, he was destined to join the Army and was commissioned into the Dogra Regiment on 14 December 2013. When asked why he didn’t join the Navy or the Air Force, he answered that he was in love with the olive green uniform.

He had volunteered to later join the elite 10 Para Special Forces in June 2015. To join the Army and kill militants was his childhood dream. The unit was deployed in Kashmir in February 2016, and he had led two operations successfully in which three terrorists were killed. Reports were received on 15 February 2016, that two or three terrorists were hiding in the seven-storied building of the government-run Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) in Phulwama. He volunteered to lead his men into the most difficult part of the operation. It was a difficult operation as some civilians were also trapped in the building. His commitment to the uniform and his team can
be judged from the fact that in spite of having been wounded in an earlier operation, he declined to proceed on sick leave, and chose to be with his men. It was more than a gun battle with the terrorists, as some locals were throwing stones at the military personnel. He evacuated all the civilians from the building to safety, and led his team to clear the premises. The only way to ascertain the location of the terrorists was to close in. He did so, leading from the front, and drew a volley of fire. The location of the militants became clear and the team retaliated. But Pawan Kumar succumbed to his injuries. Captain Mahajan, L/Nk Om Prakash, and two jawans from the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) also were martyred in this operation. Three unidentified foreign militants were later killed in the forty six-hour gun battle. Pawan Kumar was awarded the Shaurya Chakra (SC) for outstanding courage and leadership. The 23-year-old commando was given a befitting farewell by tearful comrades in a solemn ceremony at the Srinagar airfield.

It was well attended by officers from the Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force as well. Lt. Gen. S. K. Dua, GOC 15 Corps, said, “He was a young and dynamic officer. He was a true commander.” He saluted the courage and selflessness of the martyrs and assured that their cause would be taken to its logical conclusion. “Pawan’s friends recall him as a fun loving young man interested in motor cycles, jeeps, and his pet dog.

He had studied at JNU where agitation in the name of azadi was the norm, and he was from the Jat community who were demanding reservation. His last Facebook post was, “Some want reservations, some even freedom, but I want nothing, just my blanket.” His simple outlook concealed his commitment to his unit and military. A wreath laying ceremony was held at Pathankot and the body draped in the national flag was flown to Jind as the roads had been blocked by the Jats agitating for reservations. Pawan was the only son of his parents and yet, his father Rajbir Singh, commented “I had one child. I gave him to the Army, to the nation. No father can be prouder.”

Lt. Gen. Shokin Chauhan, GOC 1 Corps, visited the village to offer condolence to the family. He assured Rajbir Singh that the Army was ready to establish a school in village Badhana if the district administration forwarded a proposal. Captain Kumar’s last rites were performed with full military honours. His colleague Captain Abhimanyu, wiping his tears said that Pawan’s sacrifice had taught a lesson to the youth of the state, and if one has to lay down
his life, it should be for the sake of the country.

Brigadier Suresh Chandra Sharma (retd.)