(From left) Raju Srivastava, MS Dhoni, Rajeev Kumar, Divya Dutta and Jeetendra at the programme at Birsa Munda Football Stadium in Morabadi, Ranchi, on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Electronics engineer Dhramesh Tigga, five-year-old Muskan Paswan and one-and-a-half-year-old Laxmi Kumari don’t know each other. But all three are bound by the same fate — they lost their policemen fathers to Maoist bullets.
While Dhramesh was a Class VII student and Muskan barely three years when the tragedy befell their families, Laxmi, who was in her mother’s womb then, didn’t even see her father.
The three shared the same podium on Monday when they turned up along with their mothers and siblings to receive the honour for their fathers’ heroic deeds from the state police brass at JAP-1 grounds in Doranda.
This is the first time that Jharkhand police organised a felicitation programme for its ‘martyrs’, which was attended by the close kin of 314 slain policemen.
The event kicked off around 7.50am with a floral tribute at Sahid Sthal followed by Samman Parade and ended with distribution of commendation letters and shawls to the deceased’s next of kin. A feast was also organised. The bravehearts’ families were reimbursed the fares they paid to turn up at the function.
The 600-odd guests were given passes to attend the Shaheed Sammaan Sandhya, a musical tribute to the ‘martyrs’, at Birsa Munda Football Stadium at Morabadi in the evening. Team India skipper M.S. Dhoni attended the show, graced by singers Shaan, Meiyang Chang, Manoj Tiwari, actress Divya Dutta, actor Jeetendra and comedian Raju Srivastava.
Aman Raj, who had come from Hilsa in Nalanda district of Bihar with mother Uma Devi to receive the honour, said he was happy. “I never expected such a warm welcome from state police. The programme made me proud of my father, who sacrificed his life for duty,” said the Part III geography student of SU College in Nalanda.
He added that he wanted to serve in the police force too, undeterred by his father constable Pravesh Choudhary’s death in a Maoist ambush at Palamau’s Manatu on June 16, 2009.
Arun Kerketta, who felt equally proud of his brother Uday Kerketta, agreed. “My brother died fighting the Maoists on October 2 last year. Though he is no more, today I felt his presence when I collected the award along with my entire family,” said the 25-year-old.
DGP Rajeev Kumar, who gave away the tokens of recognition, said: “As many as 330 policemen died while performing duty after the creation of Jharkhand. Out of 330, family members of 314 slain policemen came today.”
Kumar chose the occasion to urge his men to ensure that the families of the ‘martyrs’ get their due 70 per cent concession on railway tickets. He also promised a help desk and directed DIGs of different ranges to take care of the dead policemen’s family and resolve problems faced by them.