The coffin of Naseer Ahmad reached Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday morning, after travelling from Srinagar to Delhi on Friday. Ahmad was one of the 40 paramilitary soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force killed in the Pulwama attack on Thursday. His family lives in Dodarsan village in Rajouri district, 200 km from Srinagar.
All 40 coffins were first flown by the Indian Air Force to Delhi’s Palam airport on Friday evening, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other political leaders paid them final respects in an official ceremony. Earlier in the day, home minister Rajnath Singh had participated in an official commemoration in Srinagar.
Even the coffins of soldiers from the North Indian states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir were first brought to Delhi, before they were flown to Pathankot airport on Friday night.
Asked if official protocol necessitated that coffins be brought to Delhi before they are dispatched to their home states, CRPF spokesperson in Delhi, M Dhinakaran, said there was no such protocol. “It was not possible to send each of the 40 bodies in a special aircraft, so they were clubbed,” he said.
A senior CRPF official added: “Moreover, the PM also wanted to pay respects.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and three service chiefs were also present at the occasion.
After the official ceremony, some coffins were flown to other states in Indian Air Force planes on Friday night itself, while many were flown only on Saturday morning.
Ahmad’s coffin was dispatched on Friday night in a special plane along with five others – four soldiers from Punjab, one from Himachal Pradesh. Official updates from the CRPF show the plane took off for Pathankot at 10 pm. The CRPF spokesperson in Jammu, Ashish Kumar Jha, said the six coffins were taken by road from Pathankot on Saturday morning.
Dodarsan Bala village lies 15 km from Rajouri town in Jammu division. Since the road to Srinagar is often closed in the winter, residents wanting to reach Kashmir must travel through Jammu, 150 km away. Jammu is where the nearest airport is located. Pathankot is another 110 km from Jammu.
Travelling from Pathankot, Ahmad’s coffin reached his village at 10.30 am on Saturday.
“The superintendent of police had informed us last night that his body is being taken to New Delhi first,” said Zaheer Ahmad, the sarpanch of Dodarsan Bala.
The 46-year-old soldier is survived by wife Shazia Kaunsar and two children, Falak Kaunsar, 9 and Mohammad Kashif, 7. His elder brother Sirajuddin Ahmad works in Jammu and Kashmir police.
His funeral in the afternoon was attended by Union Minister of State Dr Jitendra Singh and former deputy speaker of Jammu and Kashmir state assembly and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Dr Nirmal Singh.
A timeline of events
- Friday, February 15
- 6 pm: Plane leaves Srinagar, according to CRPF official
- 7:40 pm: Plane arrives in Delhi
- 8.50 pm: PM Modi pays final respects
- 9:40 pm: Plane with nine coffins leaves for Allahabad
- 10:00 pm: Plane with six coffins leaves for Pathankot
- Saturday, February 16
- 06:35 pm: Plane with four coffins leaves for southern states
- 07:50 am: Plane with eight coffins leaves for eastern states
- 08:55 am: Plane with one coffin leaves for Rajasthan
For more on Pulwama attack
- ‘Absolute abject failure’: Pulwama attack reflects absence of policy in Kashmir, experts say
- With February 14 attack, CRPF in Kashmir has lost more men in 2019 than in four years put together
- ‘By the time this video reaches you, I’ll be in Heaven’: The teen behind Kashmir’s deadliest attack
- ‘We lost a hero’: Kerala village mourns CRPF man killed in Pulwama attack
- As Jammu erupts in violent protest against Pulwama attack, fear grips Kashmiris in the city
- Ajai Sahni: Belligerent rhetoric on Pulwama attack can’t make up for lack of strategic planning
- TV channels’ idea of ‘revenge’ for Pulwama: Quizzing Army veterans and declaring studio war
For more on Jaish-e-Mohammad and Masood Azhar
- Searching for Jaish-e-Mohammad: Pulwama attack is a throwback to the peak of militancy in Kashmir
- Let’s be clear, the Pathankot attack is not an attempt to derail the Indo-Pak peace process
- Why making Masood Azhar the litmus test of India’s ties with China is not a great idea
- Making sense of the botch-up at Pathankot
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