We Called Him Buddha: Classmate Remembers CRPF Martyr Pramod Kumar

Never a person who coveted limelight, Pramod was happy doing his bit whenever asked to, with complete dependability.

3 min read
CRPF Commander Pramod Kumar died on Independence Day, an hour after he unfurled the tri-colour in Srinagar. (Photo: Twitter @crpfindia/Puneet Monga)

A tall, quiet, unassuming boy from Chittaranjan joined Oak Grove in July 1985. Pramod was the quintessential small town boy — simple at heart, shy, reserved, almost an introvert.

I distinctly remember, after his first meal in the dining hall, he was about to wash his hands in the plate, as he would have been accustomed to doing, before he was pointed to the wash basins. Oak Grove was a new way of life to him, and he took to it gradually.

When I think of Pramod, certain qualities of his come to mind instantly. I mostly remember how calm a person he was.

Always dignified, seldom losing patience. Hardly ever would you have seen him raise his voice, or lose his cool. Be it with teachers, staff, seniors, classmates or juniors, Pramod was always calm and collected in his demeanour.

He almost always sported a stoic expression, that would sometimes change to a smile, but I don’t remember him ever breaking into unbridled laughter. He was reserved with his emotions.

I don’t recall any instance of him ever deriving any pleasure from teasing or pranking others, nor do I remember him reacting to pranks adversely on too many occasions.

  • CRPF Commander Pramod Kumar with his school friends. (Photo: Puneet Monga)
  • CRPF Commander Pramod Kumar with his school friends. (Photo: Puneet Monga)
  • CRPF Commander Pramod Kumar with his school friends. (Photo: Puneet Monga)
  • CRPF Commander Pramod Kumar with his school friends. (Photo: Puneet Monga)

Only sometimes, something would get to him. Even in his anger, there was a certain calmness. He wouldn’t shout about or curse much. His ram-rod straight tall frame and large hands were menacing enough, when he needed them to be.

A Person of Principles

Pramod was a person of principles. He was honest to a fault, diligent, hard working and very disciplined. At Oak Grove, he had promptly enrolled himself in NCC, probably because it came naturally to him, given his penchant for routine and discipline.

Although now it seems like that time with NCC laid the foundation for his service to follow.

We Called Him Buddha for a Reason

Pramod was also deeply spiritual. At Oak Grove, he would meditate regularly. He absolutely loved Yoga. We used to call him Buddha for this reason. I would occasionally ask him where he’d find a place to meditate without disturbance, especially during our evening games time. He would just say he had his spots, but never divulged them to me.

Of course, telling someone would be inviting the very disturbance he wanted to avoid. Keeping some aspects private also suited his persona.

Pramod was never the person who coveted limelight. He was happy doing his bit wherever he was asked to, with complete dependability. Solid. There for you when you needed him. Pramod always had your back.

When pushed to the forefront, he would lead by example. He would do more than he would delegate. He would work with his team rather than asking them to work for him.

Guided by his unflinching morals and his willingness to put himself out there, he made for a leader that was one amongst his own, loved and respected for that.

Solving a Crisis Was His Forte

I remember our Inter House Dramatics competition in 1990. Pramod was the captain of Ashoka House. Our House Master was so convinced of an impending dismal performance that he excused himself from the entire exercise of deciding the play and its cast, or directing practice.

In the absence of the house master, Pramod took charge. He practically coaxed and cajoled us to take up key roles. And he attended every single practice session, egging us on to prove our detractors wrong. Dramatics may not have been Pramod’s forte, but solving a crisis was.

Close to the climax of that comedy, my character had to chase another one off the stage, and walk back in with his pyjamas. Trouble was, we had left the spare set back in the changing room on the day of our competition.

Pramod noticed the missing pyjamas as he watched us from the wings, and he averted the faux pas by dashing off to the basement and retrieving it in the nick of time.

While we were busy shining on stage, he was busy managing invisible details in the background. Moments later, when we all were revelling in applause, he was happy to let us hog all the accolades and attention.

He was simply satisfied at having done his job well. I believe we won that day because we ended with perfect timing. And we did so, because as always, he had us covered. Selflessly.

(Puneet Sonal Monga studied at Oak Grove School, Mussoorie with Pramod Kumar, CRPF commandant, 49 Batallion, Srinagar who was killed in the Nowhatta attack on Independence Day)

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