Press Trust of India

Slain VDG member laid to rest amid rains; leaves behind five minor daughters

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Basantgarh (J-K: Village Defence Guard (VDG) Mohammad Sharief, who lost his life in a gunfight with terrorists, was laid to rest amid pouring rain at his ancestral village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district on Monday, with mourners demanding a relief package for proper rehabilitation of his five minor daughters, wife and mother.

Sharief (47) was killed when a group of terrorists, who have recently infiltrated from across the border, attacked a joint patrolling party of police and VDG in Panara village of Basantgarh, some 155 kms from winter capital Jammu, early Sunday.

The body of the deceased was handed over to his family Sunday evening after a wreath laying ceremony at Basantgarh police station.

Additional Director General of Police, Jammu zone, Anand Jain paid rich tributes to the brave-heart for valiantly fighting the terrorists who fled after the initial gunfight.

A massive search operation by police, army and paramilitary forces is underway in the dense forest to track down and neutralise the fleeing terrorists.

Hundreds of locals from the villages and adjoining areas, including VDG members, joined his funeral prayers despite heavy rains. He was later buried at his ancestral graveyard.

Mourners made a beeline outside Sharief’s house to express their sympathies with the family and expressed their hope that the government will announce a rehabilitation package for the poor family which lost its only bread-earner.

Fatima Begum, the wife of Sharief, said she is proud of the sacrifice of her husband for the country but is also pained at his loss.

“Who will take care of my five minor daughters now?” she said as his shell-shocked daughters — aged between five and 15 years — sat in front of their mother in a room of their house at Lower Panara.

Begum said she was preparing breakfast for the family when Sharief came and told him that he is leaving for an operation, ‘never to return back alive’.

Naseema Bano, sister-in-law of Sharief, said it is now the responsibility of the government to take care of the poor family who lost its bread-earner.

“He laid down his life for the nation and we are proud of his sacrifice but his loss is painful as well and cause of concern for his wife, five minor daughters and elderly mother. The government should come forward and assure the family,” Bano, who resides in Ram Nagar, said.

She said they came to know about the firing and tried to contact Sharief on Phone but “some policeman picked up the phone and said he had suffered a bullet injury. The reality was that he was dead with at least six bullet wounds on his body”.

Mohammad Abaaz, brother of Sharief and also a VDG member, said they were together when terrorists opened fire on them during area domination patrolling.

“There were two groups of terrorists with nine members. I told him to be careful but he was caught in an open area and became a direct target. I along with another member took a shield in a nearby house. They rained about 50 bullets non-stop (before fleeing),” he said.

Abaaz said the encounter had taken place after a gap of more than 15 years. “We had encounters in the past and we are ready to take on them (terrorists)”.

He said the government will take care of his family, especially the minor daughters and also equip the VDGs with automatic weapons besides ensuring timely release of their monthly allowances.

Begum expressed hope that the government will announce the ex-gratia relief for the family including a government job for one of the daughters.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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