Among 4 soldiers killed: 2 young fathers, a 28-year-old months away from his wedding

The four soldiers killed in an ambush by militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch on Thursday were identified by the Army on Sunday as Naik Birender Singh from Uttarakhand’s Chamoli, Rifleman Gautam Kumar from Uttarakhand’s Pauri Garhwal, Naik Karan Kumar from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, and Rifleman Chandan Kumar from Nawada in Bihar.

According to the family of 28-year-old Rifleman Gautam Kumar, he was set to get married on March 11 next year.

“Everyone in the family was busy preparing for his wedding, and buying clothes. We had an engagement ceremony in Rishikesh on September 30, but our happiness has turned into sorrow,” his brother-in-law Jitender Kumar said.

Jitender said Gautam had dedicated himself to the Army, joining in 2014 and serving in Poonch for the past two years.

Recalling a recent surprise visit, Jitender said: “I had invited him to my son’s ‘mundan’ ceremony. I didn’t, however, force him too much because I knew he doesn’t get leave easily. But he somehow managed to come, and surprised all of us. He resumed his duties on December 16 after a 15-day leave.”

Festive offer

Gautam, from Shivpur in Pauri Garhwal district, was the youngest of four siblings, and had lost his father, Vijay Kumar, two years ago.

On how the family got the news of Gautam’s death, Jitender said: “His mother received a call late in the night…she panicked. But she wasn’t informed about Gautam’s death. She was asked to hand over the phone to her elder son, Rahul, who was then given the devastating news of his brother’s demise.”

The body of Naik Birendra Singh, 32, from Bamiyala village in the Narayanbagar tehsil of Chamoli district, was on Sunday being brought to Roorkee, from where it will be taken to his village.

He is survived by his wife and two daughters. His family also includes his parents, two brothers, and a sister. His father, Surendra Singh, is a farmer and his mother is a homemaker. Birendra was the youngest among the siblings, and one of his brothers is posted in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. According to those close to the family, they are in a state of shock after getting the news of Birendra’s death.

For family members of Naik Karan Kumar, from Bahupur village in Kanpur, his joining the Army in 2013 was a proud moment because he was the first person in the family to have joined the armed forces.

“His death came as a shock to everyone in his family. His relatives used to take tips from him on how to get selected in the Indian Army,” said Karan’s friend and neighbour Vinay Kumar Yadav.

He is survived by his wife, Anju, and two daughters aged one and six. His family includes his parents, a younger brother and two younger sisters. His body is likely to reach his village, around 20 kilometres from Kanpur city, on Tuesday.

Karan last visited his home in September and stayed for around a month. On December 20, Karan had called his brother Arun, asking him about the well-being of the family. “Karan told Arun that he would be coming home in February and would celebrate Holi together with the family,” his friend Vinay said.

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