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Tributes to bravehearts

Braving the winter chill, hundreds of Coal Belt residents came out of their homes on Thursday to pay tribute to two bravehearts who laid down their lives 22 years ago while trying to foil a bank dacoity.

The occasion was the death anniversaries of former Dhanbad superintendent of police and Ashok Chakra awardee Randhir Verma and ISM non-teaching employee Shymal Chakraborty, who died while battling bank robbers at the Hirapur branch of Bank of India on January 3, 1991. Two programmes — one at Randhir Verma Chowk and the other near ISM Gate — were organised to mark the event.

The first programme at the spot named after the martyr was organised by Randhir Verma Memorial Society. It was attended by Chatra MP Inder Singh Namdhari, Verma’s widow and former Dhanbad MP Rita Verma, former state urban development minister Bachcha Singh, deputy mayor Niraj Singh, BJP district president Hari Prakash Lata and others.

The programme to honour Chakraborty was organised by Shahid Shyamal Chakraborty Smarak Samiti near ISM main gate.

The programme at Randhir Verma Chowk began at 10am with the rendition of devotional songs by folk singer Kaluram Bamaniya who came from Malwa to perform. This was followed by people offering floral tributes to Verma’s statue.

Speaking on the occasion, Namdhari described Verma as a brave warrior who sacrificed his life for the people. “At a time when serious aspersions are being cast upon the integrity of the police force, such warriors inspire us,” he said.

He advocated inclusion of the story of Verma’s life in school syllabi to inspire youngsters.

Meanwhile, at the function near ISM main gate, speakers rued the apathy of the state government in recognising Chakraborty’s sacrifice.

Chakraborty was present as a customer in the bank and fought the criminals while Verma arrived a little later.