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The CRPF officer who stepped off right before Pulwama happened

PW Bureau 

After receiving news that he had been granted leave for his marriage on February 24, Belkar got off the bus that was blown up in the deadly attack minutes before it started   Mumbai: On February 14, when over 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers lost their lives after their bus was blown up by a suicide bomber in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, there was a soldier who managed to escape the mishap by a strange stroke of luck. Thaka Belkar barely escaped the fate that over 40 of his fellow soldiers met with as he was sanctioned leave moments before climbing onto the bus, his family said. After receiving news that he had been granted leave for his marriage on February 24, the 28-year-old got off the bus minutes before it started and thus escaped the blast. Belkar lost more than 40 of his colleagues in the militant attack.

Belkar still in state of shock

While Belkar reached his home in the Mhasoba Zap village in Ahmednagar late on Sunday night, he has not yet come to terms with the reality, his cousin Arun Belkar said. “Since he got home, he hasn’t spoken much. Just replies only in monosyllables.” The Maharashtra youth was set to be part of the 78-vehicle convoy escorting over 2,500 CRPF jawans from Jammu to Srinagar. The officer was “told that his leave had been sanctioned and he could go from there itself. There was no need to travel with the rest of the jawans ahead. The other jawans on the bus hugged him, congratulated him and a loud cheer reverberated in the same bus,” said Arun. “He (Belkar) tells us that he slung his bag on his shoulder, got off the bus and said a goodbye to all the other jawans,” Babaji Belkar, Thaka’s father, said. Belkar’s family, however, cannot forget the soldiers who will never return home. “I am not celebrating that my son has returned safely, all the soldiers who were killed in the attack were all my sons,” said Babaji. Once the wedding is over, Belkar will return to his duty in Jammu and Kashmir, Babaji said. “We didn’t know about the terror attack when it happened, frantic calls from our relatives informed us. We immediately called Thaka, he said he was safe and did not talk much,” said Babaji.