Pathankot (Punjab): It’s been six years since Ikaagar Singh, a taxi driver, was brutally killed by Pakistan terrorists on the fateful night of January 1, 2016. His children are still awaiting for the government to fulfil its promise of proper education for them and to build a memorial gate in his village. The promise was made by the then state government of Prakash Singh Badal.
The team of The New Indian traveled to Baghwal village in Pathankot, about 60 km from district headquarters and just 1.5 km away from the Pakistan’s International Border.
The village and the area has come alive in the wake of the assembly elections in the state, and local leaders contesting in polls have been frequenting this village, which usually lives in calm.
We cross several police barricades, placed in the border areas, driving along single lane roads, to visit the house of Singh, where his 83-year-old father Pritam Singh, 65-year-old mother Daleep Kaur, wife and two children (one daughter and a boy) live in a two storey building.
Sitting on a cot, his mother painfully narrates the fate meted out to her son — his son’s throat and stomach was slit by the terrorists and his fully damaged car was thrown some kilometer away from the spot.
She laments that if the terrorists wanted to kill his son, they could have shot him instead of killing him so brutally.
Speaking to the team of The New Indian, she said, “The government has only given Rs 5 lakh compensation and a job to Ikaagar’s wife, but no proper education was made available to his children. They are yet to build a memorial gate at the entrance of the village.”
With tears in her eyes, she recalled, “When we got his body, we saw how brutally his throat was slit. Even his neck was slit from behind and the intestines had been pulled out from his stomach. No one’s son should go through such trauma.”
According to her, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had done a splendid work as they brought everyone to justice and told us the truth how the entire conspiracy happened.
She said that Ikaagar’s 13-year-old daughter is studying in class 9 and his nine-year-old son is studying in class 7.
“The people gathered at our house upon learning that my son had died,” she said.
His father said that then Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had visited their home.
“The children are unable to get quality education here, and they are worried for their future,” she said, adding that his wife is goes to job everyday and can hardly give time to the children to look after their studies.
Ikaagar’s mother said, “In the last five years, since the Congress government took over, no one has been to their house to inquire if they were doing well.”
She said the family spent Rs 3.5 lakh out of the Rs 5 lakh of the compensation money to repair of the damaged car. They later sold the car, which was of no use for them as no one is there to drive it. “Besides that we are only getting Rs 5,000 as pension,” she said.
Though their daughter-in-law got a government job a year after the death of her son, the family had to run from pillar to post for the same.
According to her, after the Pathankot terror attack, the area has been relatively silent and no such terror activities have been reported from this area. People no longer live in fear, she shared.
Ikaagar’s wife, Harpreet Kaur, who now works with Punjab Police said, “A lot of promises were made, but only I got a job and pension to family of Rs 5,000. The government also gave us a red card but the loan on the vehicle was paid by us. They also promised for better education. None of that has been met.”
The government even promised for the pension to children but that is yet to be fulfilled, she said.
Many leaders visited the family post the incident and made tall promises, none of those have been fulfilled. “We never asked for anything. It was them who promised to take care of us, building our hopes, and now local leaders say that if we want to build a memorial gate then we need to get it made from ourselves,” she said, highlighting the insensitive remarks by local leaders.
To a question that now Border Security Force (BSF) has been given charge of the security in 50 km radius of border districts in Punjab, Harpreet said that the government should have come up with these measures earlier. “It is good and even these days the forces and police keeps carrying out routine checking in villages but these steps should have been taken earlier m, so that my husband would not have been killed and many more lives would have been saved,” she added.
She also says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on armed forces and families is good but the political leaders must take their voters seriously and fulfill the promises they make to people.
Ikaagar’s daughter, Palakpreet, said that she wants to become a doctor. She said that she misses her father and her mother takes of the two children, including her brother Sahaj Preet a class six student.
Meanwhile, her brother Sahaj shared that he wants to join Army once he becomes eligible. He too urged the government to free their education.
At least six security personnel and six Pakistani terrorists were killed in Pathankot terror attack. Ikaagar Singh was the only civilian to be killed before the terror attack on airbase.
India has accused terrorists belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a Pakistan-based anti-India terror group, responsible for the attack. The United Jihad Council (UJC), a coalition of terrorist groups against Indian rule in Kashmir had then claimed responsibility for the attack as well.