While a large part of 2016-2017 in Kashmir valley being centred around spike in militancy and stone pelting incidents, a CRPF soldier from Kashmir, Mohammed Saleem Jagal, injured in Chattisgarh, is battling for his life in Raipur. Saleem, riddled with two bullet injuries (one in left arm and one near his heart), was luckier than 12 other men from his 219 battalion.
An upset family asked, "Is this the reward of sacrificing life for the nation? No one yet has come to our home and nobody is ready to arrange anything for us."
While a company commandant of 176 Battalion CRPF went to the residence to look up the family, the family wishes to leave for Raipur with help from the force.
Back in snow clad Tangmarg, his family prepares to make a long journey to see Saleem. His uncle Shafique Ahmad tells us about the soldiers journey. "Saleem was a daily wager, working in the world famous Gondola rides. Its during the second phase, he interacted with the soldiers of Indian army. He came back and told us he was joining the force."
In 2010, Saleem joined the CRPF and his first posting was in Srinagar, during the peak of stone pelting by locals. He later served in militancy hit Jammu and Kashmir in Anantnag district. He moved to Chhattisgarh when his battalion was moved to fight left wing extremist.
On Saturday, he was part of the Road Opening Party deployed for protection of road construction in the heavily Maoist infested region when the troops came under ambush of 60 heavily armed Naxals.
It was another cousin in the CRPF, posted in Raipur, who first heard about the deadly ambush by Maoist in Bheji, heart of Bastar in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district. Jagal was flown in an IAF chopper to the civil hospital, where doctors worked tirelessly on the bullet wound in his arm, which had several pieces of fractured bones. The bullet near the chest has led to complications and irregular heartbeat.
Mohammed Saleem Jagal. Photo: Kamaljit Kaur SandhuHis family in Kashmir said they are proud of Saleem bravely fighting the Maoist. "If he is martyred we know he would have sacrificed his life for his country. And would have died a hero's death. But now, we pray for his recovery."
Shafique, who is Saleem's foster father, said, "Saleem is the fifth in his family to join the security forces. But he is dearest to us. The sacrifices of soldiers should not be forgotten. We want to visit him, hope arrangements can be made. We still have no word from authorities."
The Maoist riddled the CRPF men with bullets, even using bow and arrow to launch a deadly ambush. Saleem's wife and two small children are anxious to hear news of his condition. The little one knows something has happened to his "Pappa" and he keeps asking when will he be back.
Saleem's cousin said that the family was struggling to reach Raipur. "We are hoping the force can make arrangements for us."
CRPF sources however maintain that they are making preparations to send the family to Raipur, but are awaiting family's final plan.
The family said a CRPF officer came but did not offer travel assistance.
Saleem's family also alleged they were cold shouldered by local PDP politician when they approached for help.