New Delhi: Constable Subhendu Rai and Constable Rocky of the Border Security Force were honoured in Udhampur today, their bodies draped in the Indian Tricolour.
The two young men averted major casualties by disregarding personal safety when a BSF bus carrying 30 personnel was attacked by Pakistani terrorists on a highway near Udhampur on Wednesday. They died engaging the terrorists for a crucial 20 minutes, enough time for reinforcements to arrive.
As they attacked the bus, the terrorists - identified as Noman and Mohammad Naved - first immobilised it by shooting at the tyres. They then opened fire at the men inside.
A spray of bullets hit Constable Subhendu Rai, who was driving the bus. But when one of the terrorists, carrying a grenade, attempted to enter the bus, he hung on to the bus door, making sure that it remained closed. Even when the enraged terrorist directly opened fire at him from outside, the BSF said.
27-year-old Constable Rocky, newly inducted, began to fire back. His first target was the Noman, the terrorist who was trying to board the bus. Noman died on the spot and the grenade he meant to lob into the bus, burst outside.
A senior officer of the BSF told news agency Press Trust of India that Constable Rocky kept the terrorists engaged, firing 40 rounds in 20 minutes - till reinforcements reached the spot. It also gave time to his colleagues to take cover and retaliate.
"Rocky sustained bullet injuries but kept on firing till he succumbed... Had it not been for his raw courage, we would have suffered more casualties," PTI quoted BSF Director General DK Pathak as saying.
The young trooper from Haryana's Yamunanagar was known as the "rock force" of the unit, the officer said. "He lived the true meaning of his name, like a hero."
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee applauded the bravery of Constable Rai, who belonged to her state, in a tweet.