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Barnala villagers describe Sepoy Jasbir as soft-spoken youngster, can’t believe he could shoot colleagues

At Rajgarh village in Barnala district of Punjab some neighbours and relatives gathered at the house of Nirbhay Singh, a farmer, on Monday afternoon. There were curious faces all around as they knew something wrong had happened.

People came to know from some news channels that a fratricidal shooting had taken place at the Dharamshala military station in the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, resulting in the death of three soldiers.

And the man who opened fire was Nirbhai’s younger son Jasbir Singh who also killed himself before shooting his two senior colleagues — Havildar Hardeep Singh and Naik Harpal Singh — of the 18 Sikh Regiment.

Jasbir ,21, a sepoy, had joined the army only one-and-a-half-years back.

All that Nirbhay and his wife were informed by those present was that Jasbir had met with an accident and was hospitalised. But his father would not buy it.

“I usually get calls from Jasbir every three days. I had spoken to him on Saturday. Today, his phone is switched off. Kitey uss di maut taan nehi ho gayi? Sach dasso mainu. (Seems like he has died. Tell me the truth).”

Also, his mother, getting suspicious, repeatedly enquires about the well-being of her son.

“My nephew left his lunch even before he started having it. I got a call from my elder son Jagdeep but he did not say anything. It seems something serious has happened,” Nirbhay said further.

Jasbir’s uncle Surjit Singh, who knew about his death, said, “My son’s marriage is fixed for November. A few days back, Jasbir told me over phone that he will take leave to attend the marriage. Now, he will never come. He had left his polytechnic diploma course midway to join the army.”

A mild-mannered man, say local residents

Many relatives and friends of the family recalled Jasbir as a soft-spoken person. His elder brother, Jagdeep Singh, also in the army, is posted at Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir.

Village sarpanch Karamjit Singh said, “Jasbir was a polite man. Around six months back when came on leave, he met me. He was quite happy about his job.”

“His body will reach here tomorrow after conducting of autopsy,” added Karamjit.

Jaspal Singh, a villager who retired as havildar from the army, said, “As there are not many job options here, Jasbir opted for the army. As his brother was already in the army, the ‘relation certificate’ made it easy for Jasbir to get recruited.”

A village panch, Amrik Singh, said, “There are around 12-13 persons in army from our village. Nirbhai was brave enough to send both his sons to the army.”

The family had got no official communication either from the army or the district administration regarding the incident till filing of the report.

First Published: Sep 18, 2018 11:07 IST

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