India bids farewell to heroes who fell in Kabul

Brigadier R D Mehta, India's defence attaché in Afghanistan who was killed in a terror attack on the Indian mission in Kabul...

News By Amarjeet Malik From General

Brigadier R D Mehta, India's defence attaché in Afghanistan who was killed in a terror attack on the Indian mission in Kabul Monday, was cremated in Delhi on Tuesday with full military honours.

A 13-gun salute boomed out as Army chief General Deepak Kapoor led mourners, who included Mehta's family and his parents, in paying tribute to the departed soul.

"We bid farewell to a fine soldier," Kapoor told Mehta's family.

Defence Minister A K Antony could not make it to the funeral because of political developments and sent a personal emissary, who laid a wreath on Mehta's coffin.

Mehta's body, as also those of press counsellor V Venkateshwara Rao and Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel Ajai Pathania and Roop Singh who were also killed in the attack, were flown in here this morning from Kabul in an Indian Air Force (IAF) Il-76 transport aircraft.

Draped in the tricolour, the coffin bearing Mehta's body was brought to the Brar Square crematorium in Delhi Cantonment as buglers played the Last Post.

The national flag was then carefully folded and handed over, along with Mehta's cap, to his family, which till then had maintained a remarkably calm composure.

The family however, broke down as the funeral ceremonies commenced and the slain officer's son, Flight Lieutenant Udit Mehta, a fighter pilot with the IAF, lit the pyre.

Earlier, wreaths were placed on Mehta's body on behalf of President Pratibha Patil, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrashekar, Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, and the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, Lt. Gen. Hardev Lidder, were among those present on the occasion.

"My father was a great hero," Mehta's son Udit told reporters after the ceremony concluded.

"He will always be my hero. He made the country proud. I will always cherish his memory," he said.

Rao's father V Aparicharilu broke down at the funeral. "We are not able to express any feeling. We feel like we are dead and these are living bodies...(crying)...we are not sending there anymore.



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