In a vicious attack, a suicide car bomb hit the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing 41 people and injuring 139. However, it was the quick action taken by these two Indo-Tibetan Border Police constables that saved the lives of many more within the building. It was a worst-ever terror attack on India outside Indian soil and the deadliest one in Kabul since the Taliban were driven away by US-led forces.
The two bravehearts were Constable Ajay Singh Pathania and Constable Roop Singh. Constable Ajay Singh Pathania hails from Pathankot in Punjab and was born on 28th February 1972 to Hardas Singh. He joined the Police service on 4th October 1990. Constable Roop Singh hails from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh and was born on 4th December 1971 to Mundi Ram. He joined the Police service on 24th April 1991. They laid down their lives while preventing an explosive-laden vehicle from entering the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008. They were just 36 years when they laid down their lives.
In a report published by The Indian Express, an official with the Home Ministry, said, “Pathania and Singh displayed extreme courage and valour, dedication and devotion to duty, motivation and determination, averted a major disaster inside the Indian Embassy at Kabul and gave the supreme sacrifice protecting the honour and sovereignty of the nation for which they were honoured with Kirti Chakra posthumously.”
Constable/GD Roop Singh of 12th Bn was deployed at Embassy of India Kabul as part of Indo-Tibetian Border Police contingent for security of Embassy. On the fateful day i.e., July 7, 2008, Singh was manning the barrier of the embassy’s main gate while Pathania was on sentry duty. A Land Rover vehicle carrying the defence attache Brigadier R D Mehta and Counsellor V Venkatashwara Rao approached the gate around 8:30 am. Pathania spotted a white Toyota Corolla car just behind the Land Rover. Having served in Afghanistan for some time and being fully aware of modus operandi of suicidal attacks, both the constables foresaw the possibility that the vehicle could be laden with explosives and carrying a suicide bomber.
Pathania became suspicious of the tailing car and shouted at Singh not to lift the anti-bomb hexa-barrier. Singh reacted with alacrity and did not lift the barrier. However, the driver of the car Toyota Corolla rammed on the embassy vehicle and triggered an explosion of high intensity causing the death of the defence attache and the senior diplomat. It was a suicidal car bomb with heavy volume of explosives planned to explode inside Embassy compound. V Venkateswara Rao, a 1990 batch IFS officer’s body was flung onto the roof of the embassy as the blast ripped through the perimeter wall as well as the main building.
Several nearby shops were damaged or destroyed and smouldering ruins covered the street. Two embassy vehicles were among scores of cars destroyed in the blast that rattled much of Kabul and could be heard across the Afghan capital. Indian ambassador, Jayant Prasad, and his deputy were not inside the embassy at the time of the blast.
Both Pathania and Singh prevented the trailing vehicle from entering the embassy compound, thereby negating the damage intentioned and thwarting, the designs of the militants besides saving lives of the other embassy staff.
Recognising their heroic effort in saving the day, the government has awarded both these men with the Kirti Chakra, posthumously.
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