Jammu: When the bullets came whistling into the bus in relentless succession, Vir Singh, 48, was hit seven times. Despite that, he picked up his AK-47, positioned himself at a window, and opened fire.
By the time he died minutes later, he had fired 39 rounds. Vir Singh was among the eight men who died on Saturday when a pair of terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan attacked a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on a highway near Pampore town, just 16 kilometres from Srinagar.
Like Vir Singh, Kailash Yadav, a 38-year-old from Unnao and Satish Chand, who was 39 and from Meerut, fought back with all they had. None survived the attack which also left 20 injured, but their quick thinking and courage ensured that the two terrorists could not enter the bus.
“They saved lives,” said a senior CRPF officer, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorised to speak to the media. India has blamed Pakistan for the terror strike, with Home Minister Rajnath Singh stating that “India will not count bullets” if it is attacked in cases like this.
As the three heroes fought off the terrorists, a bullet-proof vehicle that was part of the convoy swung around from the rear and its armed escorts took out the terrorists.
“Most of the eight casualties were suffered in the initial stages when the soldiers were caught by surprise,” the CRPF officer said, adding that “the fight back is commendable.”
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said that the Standard Operating Procedure was violated as the convoy moved without enough security checks.
The CRPF said it followed protocol, but that it will now change the way it transports its men. “We have been studying the attacks including this one, and from now on, instead of big convoys of over 20 vehicles, we will break them up to smaller ones of three to four,” Director General of CRPF K Durga Parsad told NDTV.