CHANDIGARH: The annual Diwali ritual of Border Security Force (BSF) personnel exchanging sweets with the Pakistan Rangers at the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab will not take place today with the
beheading of an Indian Army sepoy by terrorists in Kashmir casting a pall of gloom on security forces in India.
The 26-year-old Indian Army soldier, Mandeep Singh was beheaded by terrorists in the Machil sector in Jammu & Kashmir on Friday. The sepoy was cremated with full military honours today in his village of Aantehri in Kurukshetra district of Haryana. The village has a history of sending its youth to the armed forces.
Mandeep Singh was to be home for Diwali today. He had built a new house and his family had invited the entire village for the festive lunch. But his death at the hands of terrorists plunged villagers into sorrow, and all Diwali celebrations were cancelled. As per the wish of his family, Mandeep was cremated in his farm just outside the village, just a few metres away from the house he had built.
Tonight, each household in the village will light a diya as a mark of respect in Mandeep’s memory.
There were calls in the village for its main street to be named after Mandeep Singh or that a statue be erected in the village square.
Singh joined the 17th Sikh Light Infantry in 2008 ande got married two years ago to Prema, head constable with the Haryana Police.
The slain soldier’s father, Phool Singh, a truck driver, remembered his son with tears in his eyes. “ He called ten days ago and said he would be coming home for Diwali. I never imagined that he would
come home in a coffin.”