“There is no war, but our children are getting killed. Why is the government not giving a befitting reply to the cruel acts of Pakistan,” wailed Dharmo Devi, mother of Havildar Madan Lal Sharma, 39. Sharma, hailing from Gharota village in Punjab’s Pathankot district, was killed on Wednesday morning during an anti-infiltration operation in the Naugam sector of Kupwara in north Kashmir.
Sharma is survived by his octogenarian mother, wife Bhavna, six-year-old daughter Shaveta and two-and-a half-year-old son Kanav. The fourth among his five siblings, including two sisters, Sharma joined the forces 17 years ago.
“Ever since he was posted in Kashmir around four months ago, he used to say that the situation there is quite bad and firing takes place day and night,” said Bhavna. Shaveta, just back from school, sat beside her.
“I don’t know how I will bring up the children alone,” Bhavna added.
Bhavna received a call at 7:20 am on Wednesday. A Subedar Major of 20 Dogra regiment asked her to give the phone to an elder. She handed the phone to her mother-in-law. The elderly woman was told that her son had sustained a head injury and was undergoing treatment.
Bhavna informed neighbour and councillor Devi Dutt Mahajan about the call. When Mahajan called the number Bhavna had received the call from, he was told that Sharma was no more.
Sharma’s body is expected to reach his village on Thursday.
The soldier had last spoken to his family on last Monday and said he would visit home in January or February. He last visited in July.
“I asked him to come for a few days during Navratra so that we can hold the ‘mundan’ ceremony of our son. But, he said the situation there is quite tense and he cannot come home now. He said we can organise the ceremony a few months later,” said Bhavna.
“The government is unable to protect our children. They are dying every day and the government is treating us like beggars and paying Rs 5 or 10 lakh,” said Sharma’s mother.
“Sportsmen get crores for winning a medal, but families of those who die fighting for the country are treated like beggars,” said Sharma’s sister-in-law Kusum Lata.