CHANDIGARH:“Jai Hind, Papa.” Before Colonel Manpreet Singh, who died in the shootout with terrorists in the Kashmir valley, was cremated at his hometown in the Punjabi province’s Mohali district on Friday, a sombre 6-year-old Kabir saluted his father one last time while wearing army-style fatigues. Thousands of mourners travelled with Major Ashish Dhonchak’s heartbroken family to his final resting place in Panipat, Haryana, where a bugler played the “Last Post” in honour of the soldier who was killed in the same encounter. After a wreath-laying ceremony and gun salute, the Army major’s mortal remains were transported to his native Binjhol hamlet in an army truck. There, final rites were performed.The atmosphere was solemn in the village of Bharaunjian, close to Mohali, where Colonel Singh’s home had been the scene of a steady stream of mourners since early in the day who had joined his distraught mother, wife, and other family members on their final journey. While the family and others paid their respects, an Army officer was seen cradling Kabir. A relative was spotted holding his two-year-old daughter Banni. Later, Kabir and other family members were spotted clutching to the tricolor-draped coffin of Kabir’s father. Before his father’s body was cremated, he kneeled before it as the cries of “Bharat Mata ke Sapoot Ki Jai” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” filled the air. Full military honours were accorded to the cremation, which included a wreath-laying ceremony and a gun salute. Kabir lighted the funeral pyre while being carried by his uncle as the villagers chanted “Bharatiya Sena Zindabad” and “Hindustan Zindabad.” After the cremation, some people yelled anti-Pakistani chants. Senior Army and police officers, as well as Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit, former Army Chief V P Malik, Ministers Chetan Singh Jouramajra and Anmol Gagan Maan, were present at Bharaunjian and laid wreaths. Also present was BJP leader Lt Gen D P Vats (retd). The family of Colonel Singh was seen receiving comfort from Purohit and Anmol Maan. After the cremation, former Army chief Gen. V P Malik told reporters, “It’s a very sad event. Manpreet and Ashish, the two officers, were both from my regiment. The Army and the regiment have suffered a great loss. The former army chief remarked, “We hope that people who have carried out these things they will be sorted out soon.” Colonel Singh’s mother was observed crying early in the morning as she waited at the door for her son’s lifeless body. Third-generation soldier Singh (41) was a soldier. Both his father Lakhbir Singh and grandfather Sita Singh have military experience. At the funeral, a few of Colonel Singh’s former teachers also showed up. For us, he was a diamond. A teacher who was crying added, “He had indicated he would arrive in December. He was a gift for the nation.Colonel Singh’s first-grade teacher, Asha Chadha, praised him as an exceptional learner. We are really sad tonight, but we are also quite pleased to be the instructors of a martyr who gave his life in defence of the country. The Sena Medal-winning Army officer leaves behind his wife Jagmeet Kaur, a government school teacher in the Panchkula region of Haryana, along with their two children, mother Manjeet Kaur, and brother Sandeep. Colonel Singh attended Mullanpur schools before earning a degree in commerce from a Chandigarh institution. Later, he passed the test for the Combined Defence Services and enrolled in the Indian Military Academy.At Major Ashish Dhonchak’s home in Panipat, heartbreaking moments were seen as his mother Kamla sobbed hysterically while hugging her son’s coffin. Major Dhonchak was slated to return home next month during a holiday when the family was moving into a new home, she claimed. Before being marched for the final voyage to the crematorium, the Army major’s mortal remains were brought to the chamber where he used to stay during his holidays. Col. Singh, the 19 Rashtriya Rifles’ commanding officer, Maj. Dhonchak, Deputy Superintendent Humayun Bhat of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, and a soldier perished in combat with terrorists early on Wednesday in the Anantnag district’s Garol neighbourhood.