Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lest We Forget

Jagran Cityplus remembers Lance Naik Mohammed Firoz Khan a martyr who sacrificed his life fighting against Pakistani troops at LoC in Jammu & Kashmir October last year.

A soldier, miles away posted at LoC was packing up to celebrate Eid-ul-Azha with his family at Hyderabad. There was a smile on his face that he packed in his luggage with the toys for his little children. The luggage did reach his home, but the smile was smothered. Toys were shattered. Lance Naik Mohammad Firoz Khan was killed as Pakistani troops opened fire in Poonch district at Mendhar sub-sector. His last words, “Jai, Hind!” seemed to resonate again and again in the Nawab Sahab Kunta graveyard, old city Hyderabad, where he was buried with full military honours.  

Country roads

The 35 year old soldier, Firoz was a resident of Hyderabad old city, Nawab Sahab Kunta. His father Mohammad Jafar Khan, too, was in Indian Army and wanted his son to serve the country. “Even when we would play in the ground, my brother would always mention his dreams of joining the army. He would be our leader in any game,” reminisces his younger brother Mohammad Alauddin Khan with teary eyes. And a leader indeed he was. He was with 18 Madras Regiment for twelve years serving in the battalion 38 Rashtriya Rifles. His first posting was in Ooty. He was posted at Kargil from 2005-2007. “From the army posts he would call us regularly and talk to each member of the family,” adds Alauddin in a low voice.

His mother Razia Begum fondly touches the memento that her son received while he was sent on UN Mission of Congo from 2010-2011. She gives a crushed smile, “My son has made all of us proud. He would always say that he will make it big one day while serving the army.” Labour Minister Danam Nagender, Mayor Majid Hussain, YSR Congress party president Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy, BJP leaders G. Kishan Reddy and Bandaru Dattatreya and other political party leaders had come to pay their respects to the martyred soldier when his body was brought to Hyderabad on October 17, 2013 for the funeral.

The last moments

Firoz had visited his family on Eid-ul-Fitr the last year in August. He had been given leave for Eid-ul-Azha but as soon as he heard of the firings on Indian Army posts in Poonch, where he was posted, he did not care about his leaves and went ahead to join his compatriots saying, “I can celebrate Eid later, but have to teach the enemy a lesson!” He went to the firing spot and fired back gallantly at the Pakistani troops. He was hit by a mortar splinter. Before dying, the last words that he uttered were, “Jai, Hind!” His three children Afsheen aged 5, Ashraf aged 3 and 10 month old Naaz were waiting for him come and celebrate the festival with them. Little did they know that their father was a shaheed now. They looked on innocently as hundreds of people took part in the funeral procession of the martyr and gathered at the graveyard for the burial rites. His wife Nasreen Fatima is still in a state of shock, her hands still bearing very faint traces of henna. 

Highest honour for Firoz

The soldier’s house wears a sad gloomy look with his mementos kept amidst blue paper flowers. Soon they will be humbled to have Param Vir Chakra to be kept on the highest shelf of the showcase in the living room. “We have been informed by Army officials that Firoz bhai will be awarded Param Vir Chakra,” informs his brother Alauddin. The family will go to New Delhi on Independence Day to receive the highest military award for gallantry. Firoz is dead, but his deeds of martyrdom will live for an eternity.

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