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Officer does star turn in Jammu attack

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By BINOO JOSHI AND AGENCIES in Jammu
  • Published 3.01.04
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Jammu, Jan. 3: Lieutenant Triveni Singh is being hailed as a real-life hero after he died battling militants who fired on passengers at Jammu railway station last evening. The army officer was killed along with two Border Security Force personnel and two policemen in the two-and-a-half hour gunbattle.

“I am proud of our young officer Lt Triveni Singh who braved firing and grenade bursts to kill both the suicide group terrorists in a short operation at the railway station,” said Major-General Rajinder Singh, the general officer commanding 26 infantry division. “We have lost a brave officer,” the major-general said of the lieutenant who was cremated with full military honours at his hometown Pathankot this afternoon.

He described Singh, who was commissioned in the 5 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry in 2001, as a “brave and sharp boy”.

Other than an increased security presence, there was little to suggest that a fierce gunbattle had occurred at the railway station yesterday, with passengers moving about normally.

“All these people are unaware that they owe this normalcy to the sacrifices and presence of mind of the security personnel,” said inspector-general of police P.L. Gupta. He was reviewing security arrangements at the station after having laid wreaths for the two slain policemen, both named Raj Kumar.

Both died fighting terrorists, while their colleague, Mohinder Kumar, one of the first to challenge the terrorists, is fighting for life at the Government Medical College Hospital here.

Surjit Singh, an eyewitness, said Lt Singh had displayed extreme courage. “We saw him rushing to a terrorist and holding his hands and kicking him. He had succeeded in disarming the terrorist when another…opened fire and killed the officer.”

Singh was waiting for a train when the terrorists struck.

As the sound of the gunshots and grenade bursts made passengers rush helter-skelter, the officer tried to locate the militants. He found that the militants had taken position on an overbridge linking platforms one and two and were firing at the station teeming with pilgrims on their way back from the Vaishno Devi shrine.

Singh saw one militant on the staircase leading to the overbridge. He rushed there, using what a senior government railway police officer present at the station yesterday described as “zigzag methodology” to come within close range of the militants.

Singh was unaware that his soldiers were following him as he rushed to the militants. Among the soldiers was Rajesh Kumar who lost his right hand after a scuffle with a militant who was about to throw a grenade.

Singh scuffled with another terrorist for nearly two minutes. The railway police officer said Singh killed one militant near the bridge, but a second militant, wearing army fatigues, threw a grenade at him as he tried to escape. However, Lt Singh managed to kill him before dying himself.

Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed described the attack as an attempt by militants to derail the peace process, but declared: “That will not happen.” He said the terrorists subscribed to the same ideology as those who have been targeting Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.