Prafful Shukla lay under one of the cars caught in Saturday's deadly Naxal ambush and fired a steady stream of bullets back at the attackers. The Maoists, perched at a vantage point on hillocks, shot the tyres of the car and it came crashing down upon Mr Shukla, the personal security officer of senior Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla.
Out of ammunition, and crushed under the car, the 41-year-old shouted out to VC Shukla, who sat in the car, "Sir, I have not been able to protect you. I take your leave." He then shot himself.
Friends and family describe Prafful Shukla as an exceptionally brave man who told them that if he did ever come up against Maoists, he would kill himself but never surrender.
At his home, his grieving wife is proud that her husband died a hero. His older son Aakash, a Class VIII student, who performed the last rites, says, "He spoke to me on Saturday and promised that he will be home by Sunday." Beside him is younger brother Vikas, a Class IV student.
VC Shukla is in critical condition in a Gurgaon hospital. Three bullets hit the 84-year-old former Union Minister in the abdomen. (Read)
Twenty four people, including top Congress leaders Nand Kumar Patel and Mahendra Karma
, were killed and 32 others were injured in one of the most audacious Naxal attacks in Chhattisgarh.
According to reports, about 250 suspected Naxals, blasted a heavy Improvised Explosive Device (IED) to stop a convoy of about 25 cars carrying Congress leaders in the state and then fired upon them. Although the security men travelling with the Congress convoy fired back, they soon exhausted their ammunition and were cornered.