Feeding hungry child more satisfactory than my survival in Pulwama attack: CRPF soldier (IANS Exclusive)
By Rajnish Singh
New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Getting a new life after surviving the Pulwama terror attack was okay but to feed a paralysed child was really a “satisfactory moment”, said CRPF’s Head Constable Iqbal Singh, after a video of him feeding the hungry child on a Srinagar street went viral on social media on Tuesday.
The 44-year-old Sikh trooper of Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) 49 Battalion, who works as a driver for the paramilitary force, told IANS that he was not aware about who captured the video and uploaded it on social media, which brought widespread appreciation for him on Tuesday.
Singh was one of the drivers in the 78-vehicle CRPF convoy that was attacked in Pulwama by a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber on February 14 and he played a crucial role in saving the lives of many soldiers who were injured in the attack. The incident, the worst attack on security forces in Kashmir in decades, left 40 CRPF personnel dead.
The 31-second video shows Singh feeding the child who is wearing a black dress and pink slippers while sitting on stairs made of iron in front of a closed shop, in Srinagar’s Old City area. He wipes the child’s face and offers him water to drink.
It is unclear who recorded the video. Within hours of sharing the clip on Twitter, it was seen by thousands of people and tweeted by over 6,000. The trooper’s parental gesture has been appreciated across the religious, political and social divide in the strife-torn state.
Once viral, the video was retweeted by former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti along with a caption that read, “Armed forces operating in Kashmir are often tarred with the same brush. But that generalisation can sometimes be grossly unfair. Salute this man’s sense of compassion & humanity.”
“I was having my lunch in Nawakadal area of Srinagar around 12.30 p.m. on Monday when I saw the boy aged around 10 years sitting in front of a closed shop and signalling me for food. I walked towards the boy and offered my lunch box to him. I felt bad when I realised that his hands were paralytic and he was unable to eat by himself. I then put a sheet on the boy’s lap and fed him rice and ‘chana dal’ (gram pulse),” Singh informed IANS over phone from Srinagar.
Inducted into the CRPF in 1996, Singh said he was deployed along with ‘C’ and ‘D’ companies of the force for law and order in downtown Srinagar — the largest and the most densely populated area of the city in Jammu and Kashmir and popularly known as Shehr-e-Khaas — when he saw the boy.
“This is CRPF’s basic training to help everyone whether he is a CRPF jawan or a civilian. This is humanity. I fed the child because of this thinking. I don’t know who made the video viral,” Singh said.
Asked if he tried to know about the child’s residence and his name, the trooper, also a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, said: “I don’t know sir. I found him near our vehicle. After having food the child went somewhere. As he was not able to speak properly I could not ask more details about him.”
Describing his experience after his survival in the Pulwama attack, the trooper said he was driving the second vehicle from the front of the convoy and the fifth one was hit by the bomber at the Jammu-Srinagar Highway with his explosive-laden vehicle.
“I was part of the first team that helped in the rescue operation. But, my survival in the terrorist attack was not as satisfactory as feeding the child.”
The CRPF said in a series of tweets: “Humanity is the mother of all religions.”
Taking cognisance of the incident, the CRPF, which is deployed in Jammu and Kashmir for internal security with about 67,000 troops as part of 65 battalions, has decided to decorate the trooper with the director general’s (DG) commendation disc and certificate — the highest service award of the paramilitary — for showing “exemplary human gesture in spirit of the values enshrined in the charter of the force”.
The force is deployed in the state for undertaking counter-terrorism and law-and-order duties.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)