JAIPUR/DHOLPUR/KOTA: When Rohitash Lamba, Bhagirath Singh and Hemraj Meena left their homes in Rajasthan earlier this week with the promise that they would return to their families soon, few imagined that it would turn out to be their last visit.
Lamba, Singh and Meena were among the 40 CRPF personnel killed in a terrorist attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.
Their families Friday recalled their passion and love for the country as they grieved the demise of their loved ones.
Barely two months ago, Lamba had expressed his joy on becoming a father on social media.
He rejoined duty on February 12 after spending several days with his family, including his two-month-old son.
A pall of gloom descended at Govindpura Basadi village near Shahpura, around 65 km from Jaipur, as the news of Lamba's death reached.
The former deputy speaker of Rajasthan Assembly and former Shahpura legislator Rao Rajendra Singh met Lamba's family members on Friday and expressed his condolences.
He said that Lamba's wife fell unconscious on hearing the tragic news and had to be hospitalised.
The family of 27-year-old Bhagirath Singh, a resident of Jaitpur village in Dholpur district, was struggling to come to terms with the loss.
On Friday, the entire village of Jaitpur mourned the death of the young man.
"We never knew that he would leave us so early. He had promised his father and family to return soon two days ago but they had never imagined that it would be his last visit home," Jaitpur sarpanch Kapur Chand Gurjar said.
He said that Singh's mother had passed away when he was a kid.
His father Parshuram, a farmer, brought up his two sons alone.
Singh joined CRPF four years ago, whereas his younger brother Balveer joined Uttar Pradesh Police.
Singh got married Ranjna four years ago and has three-year-old son Vinay and a-year-and-a-half-old daughter Shivangi.
Hemraj Meena's wife Madhu received a call from the CRPF camp in Jammu around 10 pm Thursday, informing her about his demise.
Soon after the news reached the area, villagers came out of their homes and gathered outside Meena's home to pay their tributes.
Kota-Bundi MP Om Birla, local MLA Bharat Singh, former MP Ijayraj Singh, former MLA Bhawani Singh Rajawat and several other dignitaries and administrative officials reached Meena's home and consoled the wailing family.
Hemraj Meena, the only government servant among four brothers and one sister, had been full of love for the country and patriotism since his early days, his elder brother, who runs a tea stall in the village, said.
Hemraj Meena is survived of four children -- two daughters and two sons.
The bodies of the slain jawans are expected to reach their homes late Friday night or Saturday, officials said.
Forty CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.
The bus was part of a convoy of 78 vehicles carrying CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar.