TILL late Sunday evening, there was no official word on the names of the 17 soldiers who had died in the Uri attack or the nature of injuries suffered by around 20 others. But one family here had begun grieving.
The family of Havildar Ravi Pal of 10 Dogra said they had been told by his cousin Joginder Pal that he had received a call that Ravi was among the dead. The family said two of Ravi’s colleagues had approached his wife Geeta Devi, 35, in Pathankot on Sunday and accompanied her and their two children to Ravi’s home in Saarba village in Jammu.
Ravi was among the few soldiers of 10 Dogra still to leave Uri, waiting to hand over to the incoming 6 Bihar. Family members said he was expected to leave Uri on Monday or Tuesday.
The family had been looking forward to the transfer as Ravi was to move to Pathankot, a peace posting. Pathankot could have been his last posting before retirement next year. Some of the other members of Ravi’s regiment had already moved to Pathankot, followed by their families.
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Excited about getting to spend rare time together with Ravi, Geeta and their children, 11 and 7, had shifted to Pathankot just 20 days ago. A neighbour in Saarba, Pradeep Kumar, said Geeta had also got the children admitted to a school there.
After reports came that Ravi may have died, villagers gathered at the family home trying to console Geeta and Ravi’s 82-year-old mother Mulavi Devi.
Ravi was the youngest among five children of Mulavi and the late Babu Ram. Two of his elder brothers are also in the Army.
Mulavi recalled that Ravi had last come home three months ago, for the funeral of his eldest brother Buchan Lal. He stayed for 15 days.
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Joginder said he was proud of Ravi. “All of us brothers can sacrifice our lives for the country,” he said.
Helicopters bringing in the dead and injured from Uri began to fly into Srinagar from early morning Sunday. Defence officials said that apart from the 17 who died, 18 soldiers had been injured in the attack on the Administrative Buildings and Store Complex of the 12 Infantry Brigade Headquarters. “All the injured were brought to the 92-Base Hospital (in Srinagar),” Colonel Arun, General Staff, Information Wing, Northern Command, told The Indian Express.
While the Army didn’t give out any details, sources said seven of the soldiers were wounded critically and one of the seriously injured had been shifted to New Delhi.
Sources said the injured soldiers were first rushed to the 419 Field Hospital at Uri, and from there airlifted to the Srinagar hospital.
Of the 20 injured, 14 are said to belong to 6 Bihar Regiment while the rest are from the 10 Dogra Regiment.
With inputs from Srinagar