“He is from Kashi,” Home Minister Amit Shah beamed as he pointed to his dinner companion on Monday – CRPF Policeman Deepak Kumar who hails from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency.

Constable Deepak Kumar has worked with CRPF for the past seven years. He’s dealt with terrorist encounters and many other law and order challenges, but he’s never been as overwhelmed as he was on Monday. “It’s an incredible experience for me,” he told News18 while sharing a dinner table with Shah and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

Was Kashi the reason he got the chance to share the table with the Home Secretary? Kumar and his colleagues insisted that it all happened by chance. “Suddenly he came and sat at our table,” said Gwan Virendra Kumar, Indian Army.

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Shah had a ‘bada khana’ with Jaws from the Indian Army, CRPF, ITBP, BSF and SSB at Camp Lethpora CRPF on Tuesday. Addressing the crowd, he said this interaction was the highest point of his three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

“I wanted to come here and meet all of you; you understand your experiences, your difficulties, and your spirit to defend the homeland. So I came here.”

Deepak Kumar of CRPF, Nagraj of BSF, Anil Kapri of ITBP and Veerendra Kumar of 50RR of Indian Army shared the table with Shah and LG Sinha. When News18 asked them about their dinnertime conversation, the four said it was the experience of a lifetime. “He asked me about my current position, the amenities I get at work, and my family at home,” Capri said.

There were about 500 other personnel from various forces, DGs from BSF, CRPF, JKP, Federal Home Minister, IB Director, 16th Corps commander and other high officials all in Bada Khanh. The dinner was considered an attempt to raise the morale of the forces and also send a message to terrorist groups. The Lethpora CRPF camp is located a few meters from the site of the Pulwama terrorist attack where 40 CRPF jaws were martyred.

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Minutes before the Home Minister arrived in Lithpura, local media reported an explosion in Kakapura, Pulwama. It was speculated that a grenade exploded, but the Kashmir police later denied this.

Shah, upon arriving at the camp, praised the paramilitary forces for their role in ensuring peace in Kashmir after Article 370 was repealed. When Articles 370 and 35a were removed, there was much speculation about the possible reaction. There was also a fear of a blood bath. But the vigilance and the role played by the paramilitary forces was that not a single shot was fired.”

Shah spent the night in Lithpura. He laid a wreath at the martyrs’ memorial on Tuesday morning before returning to Delhi.

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