Villagers Commemorate Victims, Pledge to Thwart Terrorism
Shubham Kotwal Rajouri, Jan 1: People are determined to foil the nefarious designs of the enemy, vowed Dheeraj Sharma, the sarpanch of Jammu and Kashmir’s Dhangri village that saw five of its residents being shot dead by terrorists on this day last year.
Tragedy had struck Dhangri in Rajouri district again a day later. Two children of the village where killed when an IED, left behind by the terrorists, exploded.
“No one can feel my pain as my life changed in minutes during that attack. I was a proud mother of two sons, Prince and Deepak, and now I am all alone,” 50-year-old Saroj Bala, a widow, said.
Deepak Sharma (24) and his brother Prince Sharma (21), Pritam Lal (57) and his son Shishu Pal Sharma (32), and an ex-serviceman Satish Kumar (45) were killed in indiscriminate firing by the terrorists. Samiksha Sharma (13) and her cousin Vihaan Sharma (4) were killed in the improvised explosive device (IED) blast.
Many people were also injured in the firing by the terrorists.
“We never dreamt of such an attack. Terrorists took benefit of our casual approach. Now we have taken counter measures and are determined to frustrate the nefarious designs of enemy forces,” Dheeraj Sharma said.
Explaining the measures, he said that Village Defence Guards (VDGs) are alert and the village is now protected by a company of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Bal Sharma, a VDG member who had fired on the terrorists and forced them to flee, said VDGs are alert round-the-clock to guard the village.
The attack was the first such incident in over 16 years in the border district of Rajouri. It led to the deployment of the CRPF company at the village.
While a couple of Pakistani terrorists, including the mastermind of the January 1 attack, were killed in two separate encounters with security forces in May and November last year in Rajouri, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested two terror associates from Gursai village of Poonch’s Mendhar in connection with the incident.
However, Saroj Bala expressed unhappiness over the investigation conducted after the attack. Investigation agencies are still to reach any conclusion and “we are waiting for justice”, she said.
“Why was the attack carried out on our houses for no fault of ours? Why were our innocent family members killed brutally? Why was the IED placed in front of my house,” Saroj Bala asked. She claimed that those who facilitated the attackers in this area are yet to be identified.
She also demanded that a memorial be built for those killed in the shooting and IED blast.
Recalling the January 1 attack, 30-year-old Nita Devi, who lost her husband Shishu Pal and her father-in-law, said she was cooking when a terrorist entered her house and asked for Aadhaar cards before firing on the men.
“My father-in-law died on the spot while my husband succumbed to injuries at the GMC (Government Medical College) associated hospital in Rajouri. They were labourers,” she said.
“I am left in the family with my two children, Sakshi is in class 4 and Parvas in class 1. I am concerned about their better future in the absence of their father,” Devi said. “I live with never ending fear,” she said.
Shubh Sharma (18), who survived the shooting with injuries, said though he lived, he lost his father, Satish.
He received multiple bullet injuries and doctors operated on him twice to save his life. He will undergo another surgery after five months.
Rajat Kumar, a local resident, said the incidents are fresh in people’s mind.
On that day, “it was only after around 10 minutes that we realised what was happening as we initially mistook the gunshots with bursting of crackers by someone to celebrate the new year,” he said.
Saroj Bala’s relative Shashi Bala, who had come to pay condolences on the first anniversary of the attack, said people of Dhangri are brave but no one can deny that there is fear among them as the attack was deadly and innocent civilians were killed.
“Dhangri was just another village for us where our relatives reside but now Dhangri is the name of an incident which connects with killings of innocent civilians, including children,” she said.