Rahul (22) had joined the Army four years ago and was quite popular in his village

BELAGAVI: Thousands of people thronged Uchgaon village on Saturday as the body of soldier Rahul Sulgekar, who died in a gun battle with terrorists in Poonch, Jammu & Kashmir on Friday, was brought for the final rites.The casket with Rahul’s body was flown in from Bangalore by the IAF and senior Army officials received it at Sambra airport and paid their last respect.

Brigadier Govind Kalwad, Commandant of Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre, Union Minister of State for Railways Suresh Angadi, MLAs Anil Benake and Abhay Patil, Deputy Commissioner S B Bommanahalli, Police Commissioner S B Lokeshkumar and Airport Director Rajesh Kumar Mourya too paid their last respects before the body was taken away to Uchgaon on the city’s outskirts.

As the body was being brought to Uchgaon village by road in a military vehicle accompanied by police, thousands of people, including young and old, and schoolchildren had lined up alongside the road to pay their respects to the brave-heart and showered flower petals.

Rahul (22) had joined the Army four years ago and was quite popular in his village. This was evident by number of people attending his last rights. He had was killed in a gunfight with terrorists who, aided by cover fire from Pakistan army, were trying to cross the Line of Control (LOC) in Poonch district on Friday.

The whole village reverberated with chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Pakistan Murdabad’, ‘Amar Rahe Amar Rahe, Veer Jawan Rahul Sulagekar Amar Rahe’ as soon as the body reached the village wrapped in the Tricolour. The villagers had decorated every street of the village with flowers, Rangolis and decorative paraphernalia. The final rites were performed in the evening.Before his body was consigned to flames, it was taken in a huge procession throughout Uchgaon village. Minister Jagadish Shettar also joined other leaders at the funeral at Uchgaon and paid his last respects.