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Home they brought the 'bravest one of all' dead

Home they brought the 'bravest one of all' dead

Author: Toufiq Rashid
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: September 27, 2002
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/archive_full_story.php?content_id=10229

They were the only two National Security Guard (NSG) commandos who came within handshaking distance of the two terrorists during Operation Vajra Shakti at the Swaminarayan temple complex at Akshardham.

Subedar Suresh Chand Yadav didn't survive the encounter; and his boss, Major Rajesh Sharma, who watched him die, was as inconsolable as Yadav's family members at the commando's cremation at his village today.

A distraught Sharma today accompanied Yadav's body on its journey from the NSG headquarters at Manesar to his Khetan Khera village. Thousands from neighbouring villages poured in to mourn Yadav, who is the first NSG commando to have been killed in an operation of this nature.

Yadav was providing Sharma cover during the operation. ''He was the most reliable and courageous of the lot,'' said Sharma, who kept referring to his junior as saheb. That's the reason Yadav was entrusted charge of one of the teams even as the commandos took off from New Delhi for Gandhinagar.

''As an officer in the 51st battalion, I had faith in his organisational capabilities and knew he was very brave. So I told him in the aircraft itself that he would be leading one of the teams,'' Sharma told The Indian Express. As they ringed the Swaminarayan temple complex, Sharma spotted the terrorists sneaking into the main temple premises. He called for cover, and took turns with Yadav in firing at the terrorists. ''The terrorists had an advantage since they were in the dark while we were in a lit area. Even our night goggles were of no help. The only time we saw their faces is when they fired at us,'' he said.

It was during this exchange of fire and wits that a bullet hit Yadav's cheek-bone and pierced through his skull, while another hit Sharma on his shoulder. ''He was ahead of me, so I called on his transmitter. There was no response. I assumed that his transmitter was low on battery. When I reached him, he was lying face down in a pool of blood.''

Yadav leaves behind three children- Sunita(18), Manoj (16) and Sandeep(12). ''This is the reason I am shedding tears,'' Sharma said, pointing to Sunita. ''She was to get married on December 13 this year. The marriage may now be called off.'' Yadav ''always'' wanted to join the armed forces, said his father Gokul Singh Yadav, who retired from the Army as a soldier. ''He joined the forces in 1978, just a year after I retired. In fact, I accompanied him to his first posting,'' said the 70 year-old.

Gokul Yadav worried for his three grand-children, especially Sandeep, who was still in his school jersey. ''He used to stay with his father at Manesar since he studied there. In fact, he was bought to the village by the team who informed the family about the death,'' said Yadav's brother, Bhoop Singh.

The Rajasthan Government has sactioned a 'special Kargil package' to Yadav's family-his wife will get Rs one lakh in cash, 25 bighas of irrigated land in the first or second phase of the Indira Gandhi Canal Project or an Middle Income Group house from the State Housing board. Alternatively, she could opt for Rs four lakh in cash. A sum of Rs 1.02 lakh will also be deposited in the post office, jointly in the name of Yadav's parents.

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