Hundreds of citizens and villagers in Solapur’s Barshi taluk stepped out to pay their final tributes to Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) head constable Sunil Kale, who was laid to rest in his ancestral village Pangaon on Wednesday.
Kale, who was with the CRPF’s 182 Battalion, was killed in an encounter in Bundzoo in south Kashmir’s Pulwama sector in the early hours of Tuesday, in a joint anti-terror cordon and search operation launched by the CRPF, the Indian Army and the Jammu and Kashmir Police. Two militants also were killed in the operation.
The jawan’s mortal remains were flown from Srinagar to Pune by a special military plane late on Tuesday. They were then taken to Solapur by road on Wednesday morning.
Impassioned scenes of grief were witnessed as villagers gathered to bid their final farewell to the valiant martyr. Heart-rending vignettes and loud chants of “Sunil Kale amar rahe (long live Sunil Kale)” and “Bharat Mata ki jai” rent the funeral atmosphere.
A mournful congregation of citizens from Pangaon and other villages at Barshi paid tributes to the martyred braveheart whose daredevilry and fearlessness was the stuff of lore in this part of the district.
His colleagues at the CRPF and his friends in Pangaon recalled that it was precisely because of his bravery that Kale was at the forefront of such dangerous operations.
Earlier this month, on June 3, he was involved in another encounter which resulted in the deaths of three militants, his colleagues said.
His family said that right from an early age, he was imbued with a strong spirit of self-sacrifice and a sense of patriotic duty, which led him to join the armed forces.
He his survived by his mother, his wife and two children — boys aged 10 and 13 years, respectively.
A close friend recalled how Kale, who was to retire from the CRPF some time ago, had remained in Pulwama owing to the COVID-19-induced lockdown. He had last visited his family in January.
Besides his military service, villagers spoke of Kale’s caring nature and his deep interest in farming activity.
His final rites were performed with military solemnity in the afternoon.
In a noble gesture, the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple Trust in Mumbai has announced that it will sponsor the education of the martyred soldier’s children.