Shopian, the “apple bowl” of Kashmir, turned red on 6 April 2019 as gun-toting terrorists infiltrated the sector and subsequently engaged in a faceoff with an Indian Army unit.

Both sides drew blood in resistance, recalled Uday Bhan Singh of the 44 Rashtryiya Rifles, who chased the enemy along the LOC on that fateful day to ensure India rests peacefully that night. Clad in traditional Rajasthani outfit, Singh’s family came to Fort William, Kolkata, all the way from the desert state.

For them he is both a hero at home and at the border. The family though fears for his life, their joy knew no bounds when they watched Singh receive the Sena Medal for gallantry from the GOCin-C, Eastern Command, Lt Gen. Anil Chauhan, at the recently-held investiture ceremony.

“We pledge to protect our country from enemies for which we leave behind our homes, family and dear ones when duty calls. If ever I get martyred while fighting for my country, my family should feel proud,” Singh told The Statesman.

He recalled the 6th April afternoon when his team received intelligence inputs about a possible infiltration by terrorists. Singh reached the spot on the basis of the report and began moving towards the exact coordinates where the terrorists were spotted. The terrorists were determined to put up a strong offensive while Singh also geared up to mount a surprise attack.

The terrorists, realising their presence has been detected by the Army, attempted to flee, but Singh wouldn’t let go of them and thus began a wild chase with an unpredictable course through the roads and alleys of Shopian.

Bullets whizzed past as they exchanged fire while the army cordoned off the area to corner the enemy. Finally, Singh managed to neutralise one terrorist and then another, thus saving the day.

Asked whether he feared for his life, Singh said: “When we don the uniform of the Indian Army, we take up a certain responsibility towards our country. Every second wasted while confronting our adversaries increases the level of threat. I was ready to take a bullet in the crossfire that day, but not before making sure that’s the last bullet left with the enemy before they are defeated.”