Press Trust of India

Col Manpreet Singh preferred his men when offered peace posting

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19 Rashtriya Rifles, a battalion credited with major kills including Burhan Wani

Srinagar/New Delhi: “No Sir” was the prompt reply of Colonel Manpreet Singh when he was offered a peace posting upon his promotion in 2021. Instead, he volunteered to stay and command the 19 Rashtriya Rifles, a battalion credited with major kills of terrorists including Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy Burhan Wani.

Col Singh, who is survived by his wife, a six-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter, was a combat veteran and was awarded Sena Medal during his tenure as second-in-command of the 19 Rashtriya Rifles, a battalion tasked with ensuring security in South Anantnag, Kokernag and Verinag Achabal including its higher reaches, which have been highly infested with terrorists especially foreign mercenaries in the past.

Col Singh who was in his early 40s, along with Major Ashish Dhonchak, Deputy Superintendent of Jammu and Kashmir Police Humayun Bhat and one soldier, was killed in an encounter with terrorists on Wednesday in the higher reaches of Kokernag. One soldier is still missing.

Major Dhonchak, 34, who had a close brush with death only a month ago, is remembered as an enthusiastic officer who used to go into the nitty gritty of every operation.

After his promotion in 2021 as a Colonel, Singh was given a choice to opt for peace area posting.

“No Sir, I would like to be posted in my 19 RR (Rashtriya Rifles) and be with my own men,” was his prompt response, politely rejecting the offer that had been made to him.

Col Singh always wanted to lead from the front and the reason generally given by him was “I have to ensure that every one under my command is safe.”

A sports enthusiast, Col Singh always believed in uplift of youth and engaged them in sports activities.

‘Chinar Cricket tournament’ for women and volleyball events were quite frequent in otherwise restive areas of Larkipora, where the formation’s headquarters was located.

Many sports lovers in the area said they could not believe that Col Singh was no more.

Many of them said the officer was always available for youths and had encouraged them to build a comprehensive society.

“He believed that sports played an important role in building a society…There were many drug addicts whom he sent for rehabilitation,” said woman cricketer Rubbiya Sayeed.

On August 10, Major Dhonchak and his team were participating in a cordon and search operation in the Athlan Gadole area of Kokernag when terrorists hurled a grenade injuring three people including a soldier.

“This time he ran out of luck…,” recalls one of the officers known to the fallen soldier.

Major Dhonchak was awarded with Sena Medal only last month on the eve of Independence Day.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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