Soldier’s capture by Pakistan Army: ‘Don’t let my brother be forgotten’

“I cannot process anything any more, I don’t really know what to do,” a composed Bhushan said.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai | Published:October 2, 2016 5:27 am
Bhushan Chavan, Sepoy Chandu Chavan’s brother. Amit Chakravarty Bhushan Chavan, Sepoy Chandu Chavan’s brother. Amit Chakravarty

SO MUCH has happened over the past 24 hours that Bhushan Chavan, posted in Jamnagar with the 9th Maratha Light Infantry, is struggling to make sense of everything. On Thursday, less than 24 hours after he spoke to his brother Sepoy Chandu Chavan, he received a call from Chandu’s parent battalion seniors saying his brother was not to be found. A little later, he received information that Chandu had crossed the Line of Control and had been taken captive by the Pakistani Army. Minutes later, he was rushing to hospital where his grandmother, who raised him and Chandu after they lost their parents as little boys, died soon after hearing the news of Chandu’s capture.

By 3 am on Saturday, Bhushan and his pregnant wife were in a hearse, accompanying his aaji’s body home to Dhule, Maharashtra, a journey that would take over 15 hours. He says these have been the worse hours of his life since losing his parents. Then, hours after the funeral on Saturday night, he got a call from his sister in Indore: He, and Chandu, had just become maamas, she had delivered her first baby, a boy.

“I cannot process anything any more, I don’t really know what to do,” a composed Bhushan told The Indian Express on Saturday morning, seated outside his grandfather’s house in Borvihir village where the steady stream of visitors continued.

“All I know is that right now the news is fresh and everyone is supporting me. But please, let it not happen that the country moves on to the next news event and my brother is forgotten there. I will still need to bring my brother home.”

From wanting to hear Chandu’s voice “to know he’s alive and well” to asking for updates on the “process” in inter-government channels to bring him back, Bhushan’s ideas come tumbling out. “I have a passport. Maybe I can go to Pakistan and meet him if permitted?”

Having served in Uri and Kupwara himself before being sent to South Sudan for a peace keeping mission, Bhushan, 27, says Chandu was scheduled to take a short vacation towards the end of September, postponed when the Uri incident took place.

“For the first hour after I received the news that he had been taken captive, I just sat down and cried, alone. My wife was with aaji in hospital where she was suffering from low BP. I thought of all the things I’d told him, our time growing up together.” When he got to hospital, they were pumping his grandmother’s chest, with no success.

Himself once a state-level kabuki player, Bhushan is a proud elder brother, talking at length about Chandu’s prowess as a runner and his school teachers’ faith in his abilities. “I have watched the film Sarabjeet, and have read in Dawn about how they treat men who are captured in this way. Nothing like that must happen to my brother,” he says.

Bhushan had a brief conversation with Union Minister of State and Dhule MP Dr Subhash Bhamare, and he was told Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had been apprised of the situation. “I just hope we are able to get the message across that we are waiting for him. He’s probably being kept in a dark cell somewhere, he wouldn’t even be aware of all that’s happening here. Maybe if he sees me for even a second he’ll get hope that he will be sent home soon,” says an emotional Bhushan.