It was a momentous day today for Thressiamma Joseph as she and her two daughters visited the grave of her son 2nd Lt ET Joseph in Chakabama in Nagaland for the first time, more than 24 years after he did fighting militants in 1992.
The remains of the martyrs were also exhumed today with full religious and military ceremony in order to be shifted to his hometown in Kerala. Local military officers as well as the course-mates of the martyr were also present to pay their respects at a solemn ceremony.
As the parents wished that the remains of their son be shifted from Nagaland to Kerala so that they could visit his grave more often, the Army organised the exhumation of the remains after getting the requisite permission from the district administration in Nagaland as per procedure. A Catholic priest was present along with locals who sang hymns on the occasion. An Army contingent provided the guard of honour in memory of the martyr.
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According to Col Sajan Moideen (retd), one of the course-mates who organised the trip of the parents along with other serving officers said that the remains were sent to Dimapur after exhumation. “A wreath laying ceremony will be organised by the Headquarters 3 Corps following which the remains will be moved to Calcutta where again the Eastern Command headquarters will organise a ceremony to pay respect,” he said.
Major RS Virk (retd), another officer from the same batch as 2nd Lt Joseph said that when the remains reach Kochi they will be received with full military honours by a local infantry battalion and these will be taken to Kottayam for burial under military escort. “Adequate arrangements have been made with the Deputy Commissioner in Kochi and Kottayam for providing a police escort to accompany the parents from Kochi airport to Kangiramattom village. Senior military officers including the Station Commander Kochi will also be present to honour the martyr,” said Maj Virk.
As reported by The Indian Express on September 3, the visit of the family of 2nd Lt Joseph was organised by the Army as well as his course mates to mark the 25th anniversary of the passing out of their course from the Indian Military academy in 1991.
The family, including the father, Subedar Major AT Joseph (retd), who were living in a village near Kottayam in Kerala were contacted by the coursemates of 2nd Lt Joseph who wanted them to be part of the silver jubilee of the course. Since only the father had been present for the burial of his son after he went down fighting the militants, the course mates decided that the mother and sisters of the martyr should also be helped to visit the grave to pay their respects.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the martyr’s father, Subedar Major Joseph sad that that the family was very happy to have gotten the opportunity to visit the place where their son was buried. “My wife has finally received some peace of mind. We are very grateful to the Army and course mates of our son for organising everything and now we look forward to burying him in the graveyard in our village,” he said.
2nd Lt Joseph joined the National Defence Academy (NDA) and thereafter passed out from the IMA in June 1991. He was commissioned in the Corps of Military Intelligence but was doing his attachment with the First Battalion of Fourth Gorkha Rifles (1/5 GR) in Nagaland. His course mates reveal that he had finished his attachment and was due to leave the battalion in a few hours time when he received the information about the presence of some militants and volunteered to taken them on. It was in this action in June 1992 that he laid down his life.