Sepoy Javra Munda, 35
Merla village, Khunti (Jharkhand)
For three generations, Merla village in Jharkhand’s Khunti district, 40 km from Ranchi, has seen a number of its residents joining the Army as young men, with the oldest having gone on to retire. On Monday, Merla awaited the arrival of its first martyr.
Sepoy Javra Munda, 35, was one of the 18 killed in the Uri attack. He had been posted in Kashmir for three years and been expecting a transfer.
“As far as I know, the entire unit was to be transferred to West Bengal and they were supposed to go to Uri for one last time,” said Francis Pardia, a 1971 war who retired in 1984, and whose father had been an Indian member of the British Army.
Yakriyash Topno, another veteran, said, “There were three or four of us who retired after serving in the Army. There are another three in the Army. Our heart bleeds today because Javra is the first martyr.”
Villagers are preparing to set up a memorial to their hero at the spot he is buried. “He will be buried in his own land and we will build a memorial there,” said Kashi Nath Mahato, overseeing the preparations.
Jhavra’s brother Daud Munda, 18 and a BA student, wants to join the Army. “There will be a recruitment rally in October in Ranchi. If I get through, I will join the Army. I have to take care of my Javra’s wife and three daughters. Also, I want to avenge my brother’s death,” he said.
Salmi Dhanwar, Javra’s mother, told villagers, “It is sad I have lost my son but I am also proud he given his life for the country.”
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Javra’s wife Jingi often fainted and had to be given medical attention.Their eldest daughter Sandhya, who is in class VIII, came to know of his death after she returned home from school. “Only our uncle is there to take care of us,” she said, choking on her words, while relatives consoled her sisiters Sushma and Shilpa.
It was only on Sunday that power was restored to the village after a month, having been disconnected thanks to a defunct transformer. “We watched TV and I got concerned because I knew the attack was in Uri. But there was no way to confirm it. So rather than spread panic, I did not tell anyone,” said veteran Topno. Javra used to work in a cement godown before he joined the Army in 2005.