In homes across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, families mourn sons lost to terror in Uri. They express their grief and anger. They also seek retaliatory action from the government.
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 Rakesh Singh, 28
Badhdha village, Kaimur (Bihar)
While on vacation in May, Rakesh Singh, 28, had taken his wife Kiran Kushwaha and their son Harshit, which means happy, to Assam and posed with them outside Kamakhya temple. Showing their photograph to visitors at their half-constructed, brick-and-asbestos home, Rakesh’s Harihar Singh, 68, tried his best to conceal his emotions. Not his wife Rajkawal Devi, who wailed unceasingly for the youngest of her four sons, the only one with a job.
Harihar was upset a chowkidar broke the news to them. “The district administration should have has the basic courtesy to send a senior official to share our sense of grief and pride,” Harihar said. (Click here to read more)
Havildar Ashok Kumar Singh, 44
Jagnarain Singh, 78, has been blind for the last 20 years. But now more than ever, he wishes he could see again. “I still have some strength left in me to fight Pakistan alongside the Indian Army to avenge my son’s death. The way terrorists slayed our soldiers, we should do the same,” said Jagnarain, father of Havildar Ashok Kumar Singh (44), who died in Sunday’s attack.
This is not the first such tragedy to hit the Singh family — in 1986, Jagnarain’s eldest son, Kamta Singh, a 23-year-old sepoy in the Indian Army, had died in a bomb blast in Bikaner. (click here to read more)
Naik Sunil Kumar Vidarthi, 40
Boknari, Gaya, Bihar
MATHURA YADAV, 68, is distraught yet proud. “My son is the only person in the family who became a soldier. He always spoke of the value of education and wanted his daughters to do well in studies,” he said.
His son, Naik Kumar Vidarthi, 40, killed in Uri, leaves behind three daughters and a son, who live with their mother Kiran in Gaya town, some 25 km from their father’s home in Boknari. Vidyarthi last visited the village two-and-a-half months ago. He had told his father that he would come home this Dussehra and help him renovate the ancestral home. (Click here to read more)
Sepoy Rajesh Kumar Singh, 33
Bhakur Village, Jaunpur (UP)
Sepoy Rajesh Kumar Singh’s brother, Umendra, had been awaiting his call from his new posting in Kashmir. Instead, what reached him was the news of Rajesh’s death. “He had gone about 20 days ago. We were not able to talk to him ever since then. And after all this wait, we got this news that he had been killed,” said Umendra, Rajesh’s brother. “I had spoken to him about one-and-a-half months ago and he asked about my family.”
Rajesh joined the Army about 12 years ago. Hailing from Jaunpur’s Bhakura village, he was the youngest of three brothers. (Click here to read more)
Sepoy Harinder Yadav, 26
Gaeen Deupur , Ghazipur (UP)
At 26, Sepoy Harinder Yadav supported a family that included his wife, two sons, parents, four elder and a younger brothers and their families. He was the only one with a government job.
“Our four elder brothers work as labourers in Rajasthan and other places,” said Nagendra, the youngest brother. “I stay at home. Harinder’s wife and children also live in the village. Though our family is large, he always tried to keep us together. He had given me his ATM card a few years ago.” The family owns six bighas agricultural land. (Click here to read more)
Lance Naik Rajesh Kumar Yadav, 35
Dubardha Village, Ballia (UP)
The last ones in Ballia’s Dubardha village to get to know about Lance Naik Rajesh Kumar Yadav’s death in the Uri terror attack were his wife Parvati Devi, who is eight months pregnant, and his ailing mother Simariya Devi, who is a heart patient.
The villagers, along with other family of Rajesh, pulled out all stops to avoid breaking the news to the two women.
“We erected barricades on the road leading to our house to ensure that no mediaperson or any relative could reach our house and talk about Rajesh’s death to my mother and his wife. We stopped everyone from visiting our house. But, some journalists managed to reach our home from the other side of the road and told about the death to Rajesh’s wife, Parvati, late in the afternoon,” said Rajesh’s youngest brother, Vikesh Yadav, who is a farmer. (Click here to read more)
Sepoy Naiman Kujur, 30
Chainpur, Gumla district, Jharkhand
On Saturday, Sepoy Naiman Kujur, 30, had told wife Beena Tigga over phone that she should take care of their child and not worry about him. A day later, he was killed in the terror attack at Uri.
“Nobody should find oneself in the situation I am in. I feel the government should take strong action against terrorists, Pakistan, whoever is responsible,” Beena said. She added she was ready to become a soldier herself. “If they (terrorists) come before me, I will kill them,” she said. (click here to read more)
Sepoy Ganesh Shankar, 34
Ghoorapalli Village, Sant Kabir Nagar (UP)
When the news of sepoy Ganesh Shankar’s death reached them Monday morning, the family was busy making plans for the wedding of his younger sister, Indrawati, 20.
“Indrawati’s wedding was fixed in Gorakhpur a few days ago. On Monday morning, we were talking about preparations needed for marriage functions when locals informed about Ganesh Shankar’s death. It got confirmed when mediapersons reached our place,” said Ganesh’s elder brother, Suresh Chandra Yadav, a farmer. Ganesh, 34, is survived by his wife Gudia Yadav and children Amrita, 9, Ankit, 7, and Khushi, 4. (click here to read more)
Subedar Karnail Singh, 46
Shibu Chak, Jammu (J&K)
A DAY after he lost his father Subedar Karnail Singh in the Uri terror attack, Anmol Saini (19) too wants to be a soldier and serve the nation.
“I am proud of my father because he sacrificed his life for the nation. After completing my studies, I too will join the Army to fulfil my father’s dream,’’ he said. The BA first-year student spoke to his father over phone for the last time three days ago. “He told me to work hard so that I can score good marks in the exams,’’ he said.
Singh’s mortal remains reached Shibu Chak village Monday afternoon. Surrounded by villagers and amid slogans of Bharat Mata Ki Jai, he was cremated with military honours. (click here to read more)
Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui, 23
Jamuna Balai, Howrah (Bengal)
The path leading to the two-room Dalui hut was muddy and a neighbour was shovelling dry sand on it while another villager was fixing tubelights on the trees. Jamuna Balai village of Howrah was preparing for the arrival of its martyr, Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui.
“They struggled so much to bring him up well,’’said a neighbour. Dulai had joined the Army two years ago, still in the first year of college. (click here to read more)
Sepoy Biswajit Ghorai, 22
Gangasagar, South 24 Parganas (Bengal)
“I will never let any member from my family join the Army again. No money can compensate this loss. Can money bring my brother back?” wails 20-year-old Bulti Ghorai, sister of Sepoy Biswajit Ghorai.
She is seated in their mudhouse in a remote part of Gangasagar in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district. The road to the house has no lights.
Father Rabindranath Gorai says proudly, “Martyrs never die. I have lost my son. I don’t know how we will live, but I must say that I am proud. I know he died for the nation.” (click here to read more)
Havildar Nimb Singh Rawat, 48
Rajawa, Rajsamand (Rajasthan)
The last time Havildar Nimb Singh Rawat spoke to his family members was eight days ago. “He had spoken to his wife briefly. The mobile network here doesn’t allow for longer conversations,” says Laxman Singh, his younger brother.
The village, located about 15 km off the NH 8, is at the far end of a network of country roads, crisscrossing the undulating, rocky landscape dominated by the Aravallis. (click here to read more)
Lance Naik Chandrakant Galande, 27
Jashi village, Satara
“When I heard of young Armymen dying in terror attacks, I often felt I should ask my three sons to come back. But then, I won’t be able to tell people that I belong to this land. Am I wrong in saying that I want my two other sons to be safe? Will the government ensure that our sons are not killed like this?” says Shankar Galande, father of Lance Naik Chandrakant Galande (27), tears in his eyes. His two other sons and Chandrakant’s elder brothers, Keshav and Manjabapu, are posted in the northern sector.
Shankar is seated at their home in Galande Vasti hamlet near Jashi village, 70 km from Satara town. Not far from the house, his son’s last rites will be performed with full military honours on Tuesday. (click here to read more)
Sepoy T S Somnath, 25
Khadangali village, Nashik (Maharashtra)
The past few days have been tough on Somnath Thok, an onion farmer. The crash in onion prices after a bumper crop in Maharashtra caused severe heartache to small farmers like Thok, who grows the crop on a three-acre patch of land in Khadangali, in Nashik district of Maharashtra.
The blow from the market, however, was nothing compared to the shock he got on Sunday, when he was informed about the death of his son Sandip, 25. Sitting among relatives, Thok kept largely silent.
“Sandip’s memory will remain like a millstone around our necks,” said Dhyaneshwar Chavanke, Sandip’s brother-in-law. Sandip was the youngest of four siblings, including two married sisters. (click here to read more)
Sepoy Vikas Janrao Uike, 26
Nandgaon (Khandeshwar) town, Amravati (Maharashtra)
“HE was the old man of the family,” said Babytai Uike (50) as she described her 26-year-old son, Sepoy Vikas Janrao Uike, who was killed in the Uri terror attack. Inconsolable, the mother recounted how Vikas would deposit Rs 10,000 every month without fail to help out the family.
“He helped from his earnings to marry his sister, Priti. Recently, his younger brother was engaged. Vikas, who visited us just a month back, had promised that he and his brother would get married in the same pandal and that he would select a bride for himself soon. But that is not going to happen now,” said Babytai. (click here to read more)
Sepoy K Vikas Janardhan
Purad Nehad, Yavatmal (Maharashtra)
Purad Nerad in Wani tehsil of Yavatmal district is mourning the death of Vikas Janardhan Kulmethe,who died in hospital Monday of injuries sustained in Sunday’s terror attack in Uri. Vikas, who joined the Army in 2008 and was transferred to the camp at Uri six months ago. He had got married two years ago. (click here to read more)
(Reporting by Santosh Singh, Prashant Pandey, Arun Sharma, Ramendra Singh, Manish Sahu, Esha Roy, Sweety Kumari, Mahim Pratap Singh, Sushant Kulkarni, Zeeshan Shaikh and Vivek Deshpande)