Gujarat: Grandmother dies after hearing of soldier’s capture by Pak army

Raised by grandparents in Maharashtra’s Dhule, all Sepoy Chavan ever wanted was to join the Army, say friends

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Dhule (maharashtra) | Updated: October 14, 2016 12:08 pm
surgical strikes, Pakistan Indian soldier, Indian soldier captured, Indian soldier prisoner, indian soldier, Indian soldier captured by pakistan, Pak, Pakistan army, Indian soldier abdustion, Indian soldier grandmother dies, Chandu chavan, Lilabai , Lilabai dead, gujarat, gujarat soldies, indian army, Surgical strikes, Dhule district, Chavan family, Gujarat government, devendra fadnavis, fadnavis, gujarat news, india news, indian express news According to an Army official, Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan, who was posted with 37 Rashtriya Rifles at Mendhar along the LoC, was captured after he “inadvertently crossed over”.

Barely minutes after she heard that her grandson had been captured by the Pakistan Army, 65-year-old Lilabai suffered a cardiac arrest and died in Jamnagar, Gujarat, where she was visiting her older grandson, who is also in the Army and posted there.

Back in Dhule district’s Borvihir village — where Lilabai and her husband Chinda Dhondu Patil Sonawane had brought up the two boys after they lost their parents — nobody was surprised. “They are our own children,” said Sonawane, 72.

WATCH VIDEO: Indian Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan In Custody, Confirms Pakistan

 

According to an Army official, Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan, who was posted with 37 Rashtriya Rifles at Mendhar along the LoC, was captured after he “inadvertently crossed over”. But the circumstances that led to his capture, and the day it happened, remain unclear. Army sources said he was captured on Thursday while villagers in Borvihir said they received news on Wednesday from Chavan’s elder brother Bhushan, who is with the Maratha Light Infantry, that the 22-year-old was missing.

On Friday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that “all attempts are being made to secure” the release of Chavan. Hours later, while waiting for his wife’s body to be brought home for the funeral, and with no reply yet from the Pakistani side to India’s enquiries on Chavan, Sonawane refused to give up hope.

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“I spoke to Union Minister of State for Defence Dr Subhash Bhamare, who is our local Lok Sabha MP. He has assured me that Chandu will be brought home safely within 2-3 months,” he told The Indian Express.

indian soldier, Indian soldier captured by pakistan, Pak, Pakistan army, Indian soldier abdustion, Indian soldier grandmother dies, Chandu chavan, Lilabai , Lilabai dead, gujarat, gujarat soldies, indian army, Surgical strikes, Dhule district, Chavan family, Gujarat government, devendra fadnavis, fadnavis, gujarat news, india news, indian express news Chandu Chavan’s brother Bhushan Chavan in Dhule, Friday. (Source: Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

The grandfather, who spent the evening sitting in silence with visiting politicians as he waited for the hearse carrying his wife’s body to arrive, has also been told that Maharahstra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was in Delhi and had spoken to the Home Minister about Chavan.

Home Ministry sources said that Singh later spoke to Chavan’s brother, offering condolences on his grandmother’s death and assuring that the government was “doing its best” to secure his brother’s release.

Born in 1994 in Jamner taluka of Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, Chavan lost his father in 1997 and his mother in 2000. His maternal grandparents brought the boys to Mohadi village, next door to Borvihir. The brothers also have a sister, who is married in Indore and due to deliver a baby any day now.

“Right from when he was a boy, Chandu was keen to join the military. After his brother was recruited in Belgaum, he became more fixated about getting in. He attended multiple recruitment events, one in Belgaum too,” said Sonawane. Chavan was eventually recruited in the Armoured Corps in 2012 and trained in Ahmednagar.

Chavan spoke to his grandfather last on September 19, promising to try and take a quick break around the month-end. “He told me he’s not certain if he will get leave but that if he could he would come before September 30,” said Sonawane.

Friends of the two brothers in Borvihir, where the grandparents shifted after Sonawane retired from the education department of the zilla parishad, say they came to know that Chandu was missing the day before. “Bhushan called and said he’d received a call from superiors that Chandu was missing,” said Dipak Patil, 25, from Mohadi, quickly correcting himself after referring to his friend in the past tense.

“Both villages are in shock. Chandu is as much a Mohadi boy as a Borvihir boy. We are Bhushan’s batchmates but Chandu meets us whenever he’s here. He’s like our little brother, too,” said Patil.

Chandu completed his Class XII, opting for the Science stream, from the local SMPR Vidyalaya in Borvihir. An athlete for many years, he recently improved on his own local record of 1,500 metres in 5 minutes and 20 seconds, said friends.

“He is a boxer, too, in his paltan and had won at a few tournaments,” said Nitin Patil, who was recruited in the Army in 2004 and is home on vacation for two months from the Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) corps.

“I met him during recruitment and we kept in touch. He is a complete one-man show. Even during a break in his village, he goes on a run at 4 am, alone,” said Nitin.

Other youths in Borvihir and Mohadi said that every time Chavan was home, he’d tell them to work hard and get into the Army. “He was very specific that he wanted to be in the Army, not Navy or Air Force,” said Sandip Patil from Mohadi.

Chavan’s grandfather, meanwhile, says the family had been hoping to get him married next year. A prospective bride’s relatives had even come to visit the last time Chavan was here a few months ago, he said.

Around 7.40 pm, Lilabai’s body was brought into Borvihir, accompanied by local politicians and Bhushan, who broke down on seeing his grandfather and friends.

In the village of about 7,000 people, families kept their porch LED lights on for the large crowd to see in the dark. Groups of villagers spoke in hushed whispers, discussing the “war” along the LoC and Lilabai’s demise.

Chavan’s paternal uncles Madhukar and Dinkar Patil as well as other relatives also gathered in Borvihir. “We hope the government will do something to bring him back soon,” said Madhukar, who retired from the State Reserve Police Force.

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  1. K
    Khalid
    Oct 1, 2016 at 5:21 am
    A captured soldiers must be kept well and its forbidden to mistreat. Im sure Pak army, people will treat him well.once he arrives to india he will certainly tell.lt;br/gt;His parents, his family need not to sorry your son is in custody of a stani/islami army
    Reply
    1. K
      Khalid
      Oct 1, 2016 at 5:28 am
      India is not serious about solving pending problems and every time it shys away. Kashmir must be solved as agreed to Uno by india. stan can not and will not let india kill its people in kashmir.
      Reply
      1. M
        Muhammad Nehal
        Oct 1, 2016 at 12:59 am
        Dont worry mr. Chawan ! We will make sure your brother reach india safe and sound. We want peace not war.
        Reply
        1. P
          Peace Lover
          Oct 3, 2016 at 9:05 pm
          Very sad new!. My sympathies are with them. Our religion teaches us to treat prisoners with kindness, mercy and feed them well. Don't worry stan army will treat him well. You can confirm this, when he will return back to india.lt;br/gt;Please treat kashmiris people like human beings. They deserve to be treated like humans beings....
          Reply
          1. V
            Vipin Tikoo
            Oct 1, 2016 at 6:04 am
            All mothers and gmothers behave and suffer the pain in the same way when any bad news related to sons and gsons is received , whether they belong to India , stan or Kashmir . And all politicians on either side of border behave selfishly in the same way , putting lives of commoners into mouth of death , just for votes and power . May better sense prevail and may peace be our path and way . Let our leaders get votes by means other than war and violence .
            Reply
            1. G
              Geeta
              Oct 1, 2016 at 5:51 am
              India-Pak should unite like East and west Germany and remain peaceful thereafter. Its united strength will give run for its money to the world. Public from both countries will welcome it. Imagine- Karachi ka halwa, Banaras ka paan and Dhaka ke muslin. Since parion in 1947, Pak has reduced itself to a terrorist,rouge state. As a result of Muslim invasion of India, most of the Pak's people are converted from Hinduism to Muslim. Hence, uniting as one should not pose a problem to either country. Out of country, folks fom India- Pak live in harmony. If you decide not to merge with India, don't worry about Kashmir, take care of Balu and Karachi. Pak might not like to loose it like it lost Bangladesh.
              Reply
              1. S
                Sriniwasan
                Oct 1, 2016 at 1:34 am
                First of all he will not reach the Kangaroo Court.Before that he will be back in India.
                Reply
                1. K
                  Kay Gee
                  Sep 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm
                  Indian army cross stan border for toilet.
                  Reply
                  1. J
                    Jawad
                    Oct 1, 2016 at 3:42 am
                    But they dont have any other option other than to defend the country for which they are trained for. Just ask your lwafers to sit and talk to resolve all the issues which they dont want. Be realistic
                    Reply
                    1. J
                      Jawad
                      Oct 1, 2016 at 1:36 am
                      Don't worry Chuvan, you will be looked after well in line with the highest traditions of muslims. You will not be maltreated but I am not sure what treatment you are going to get in your country. They may abuse you with harsh words like coward, incompetent and better you would have died there. Infact your politicians are not sending their sons or daughters in Armed forces so they can not feel the pain and agony what the parents of a soldier may feel like. Good luck
                      Reply
                      1. J
                        Jawad
                        Oct 1, 2016 at 3:43 am
                        Leaders
                        Reply
                        1. J
                          Jawad
                          Oct 1, 2016 at 3:06 am
                          We will keep on playing blame game and sufferings will continue. Just ask politicians how many of them would like to send their sons in Armed Forces. Why Mr Rajnath singh ask his family sons and daughters to join army and prove his love for Indian soil.
                          Reply
                          1. A
                            Ashok Mazumdar
                            Oct 1, 2016 at 1:33 am
                            Wait for Few Hours .lt;br/gt;Commandos will rescue you by Helicopter.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The Entire Country is with you.
                            Reply
                            1. K
                              KADAR MOHIUDDIN
                              Oct 1, 2016 at 12:29 am
                              Very sorry and bad luck. GOD IS WITH YOU CHAVAN.lt;br/gt;JAI HIND
                              Reply
                              1. P
                                Pranav
                                Oct 1, 2016 at 3:36 am
                                Pak army is playing very very dangerous game here mind it...
                                Reply
                                1. P
                                  Prasad
                                  Oct 1, 2016 at 2:10 am
                                  Thanks for your kind words and I am sure Chavan's family will be comforted by your good thoughts and wishes. At the same time we will all appreciate you more, if you would urge your Government and State actors not to covertly send murderous terrorist thugs into our country to cause death and destruction !
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    sanjay
                                    Oct 1, 2016 at 4:14 am
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                                    Reply
                                    1. U
                                      Umer Ahmed
                                      Oct 1, 2016 at 11:53 am
                                      Come and get him via surgical strike/operation hahaha..
                                      Reply
                                      1. Y
                                        yash sehgal
                                        Oct 1, 2016 at 1:38 am
                                        Another strike n capture ten porki soldiers for ransom n Chauhan is free...
                                        Reply
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