In a rare outpouring of grief for a fallen soldier in strife-torn Kashmir, thousands of civilians on Saturday bid a tearful adieu to Lance Naik Ghulam Mohiuddin Rather, who was killed in an ambush by militants on Friday. Little did the people know what fate had in store for the valiant soldier when he left his home at Marhama Mohalla in Bijbehara of south Kashmir in January after celebrating the birthday of his son Aahil, who had turned one.
On Saturday, when his body, draped in tricolour, was brought for the last rites, a pall of gloom descended on the locality.
34-year-old Rather, who was killed in an ambush by Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Shopian district on Friday, was part of the 4-Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and posted with 44 Rashtriya Rifles, a counter-insurgency force carved from various army units. Two other soldiers and a civilian woman were also killed in the encounter, which took place barely 25 kilometres from his home.
His wailing wife Shahzada Akhter and grieving relatives received the body.
The huge turnout of mourners surprised the army officers and jawans who accompanied Rather’s mortal remains.
His relatives were seen wailing and recollecting the time spent with him.
“He was a highly motivated and courageous soldier as well as a gentleman who upheld the best traditions of the army,” a senior officer said.
After the wreath laying ceremony at the Srinagar-based Corps Headquarter, which was attended by Army Chief Bipin Rawat, the mortals remains of Rather were taken to his house in a special vehicle.
His body was handed over to the family members for the rituals to be conducted at his house in the presence of a huge assembly of people.
The mortal remains were then brought to the graveyard at Asthanpura where special prayers were conducted by the Moulvi as per the religious customs.
“The bravery and selfless devotion of the martyr towards the nation was also highlighted by the Moulvi while addressing the villagers in the presence of the representatives of the civil administration and the army,” the officer said.
After the gun salute, as his body was lowered into the grave, some sobbed uncontrollably and others stoically fought back tears, remembering the doughty son of Marhama.