Himachal CM, Nadda attend CRPF martyr’s funeral

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda on Saturday visited the native village of CRPF trooper Tilak Raj, who was killed in the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday, and attended his last rites.

While consoling the martyr’s father Layak Ram, his mother and other family members, the Chief Minister said Tilak Raj laid down his life for the nation and the state government was standing behind the family in this hour of grief.

“We will give whatever assistance they require,” Thakur said.

The last rites were performed with full state honours at Raj’s native village Jandro in Jawali area of Kangra district, some 300 km from the state capital.

The Chief Minister also took part in the last journey of the martyr.

Raj was one of the 49 troopers who were killed after a suicide bomber rammed his SUV packed with explosives into a CRPF bus on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pulwama district on Thursday. He had joined the CRPF in April 2007.

CRPF personnel gave the final guard of honour to the martyr on Friday. Ministers, political leaders and local administration officials were present when the last rites were performed.

Raj’s brother Baldev Singh lit the pyre amid slogans of “Shaeed Tilak Raj Amar Rahe”. Hundreds of villagers gathered for the cremation and raised anti-Pakistan slogans.

Local Member of Parliament Shanta Kumar and state cabinet Ministers Kishan Kapoor and Vipin Singh Parmar also attended the cremation.

Condemning the cowardly terror attack, the Chief Minister said the nation would give a befitting reply to Pakistan. Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack.

Thakur said, apart from financial assistance of Rs 20 lakh to the martyr’s family, the state government would provide all possible assistance to them, including a government job to Raj’s wife.

A pall of gloom descended on the village as Raj’s mortal remains reached his home.

Constable Raj, 31, was a popular Himachali folk singer and kabaddi player, his friends said.

Raj, who had joined duty on Monday (February 11) after availing leave, leaves behind his parents, wife and two sons.

“Tilak Raj had sung many popular folk songs in the local dialect,” village head Afsar Singh told IANS over telephone.

He said when Raj was not on duty, he used to pen songs and get them recorded.

“This time when he was on leave, he was planning to get his songs recorded but couldn’t do so as his wife was in the family way,” the village head said.

His elder son is two years old while the younger one is a 15-day-old.

“Whenever he was in the village, he used to organise kabaddi matches,” said Bhagwan Das from the village.