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.
Inside the hut, women milled around Shikha Dalui, 42. The last time she spoke to her son was Thursday. “He said he wouldn’t be able to call the rest of the week,’’she said. Her husband and younger son had tried to keep the news, saying her son was unwell. “I kept saying he must be okay,” she said, now aware of what had happened. “We had raised him well despite our troubles. God always takes from the poor.”
The Daluis sent their sons Gangadhar and Barun, 15, to Garbaliya R C Manna Institution, the area’s best, managing on the paddy they sold from their fields. When Gangadhar got into the Army, he became the sole breadwinner.
“My brother has always wanted to join the Army,” said Barun, sitting in a room taken over entirely by the only bed in the house. On a small shelf, Gangadhar’s trophies were lined . “My brother took part in every sports event in school and always won.”
It was sports that got Gangadhar into the Army, getting the offer while in college. “He left everything because being in the Army was his dream,’’ said Sheikh Riyazul Rehman, 23, Gangadhar’s classmate and best friend. “Gangadhar was here last month on a vacation. The evening before he left on August 15, we had a feast. We ate meat but he had only ghooghni (chickpeas); he told me that during training, he had heard about cruelty to animals and given up meat.”
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Then in a spurt of anger he added, “Pakistan is the worst country in the world. What is our government doing — it is incompetent, ineffective. The Pakistanis know our government is soft… We need to teach them a lesson.”
This was Gangadhar’s first posting in Kashmir and third in his short career. He was posted in Bengaluru and Siliguri before this. “He would talk about the mountains. He would usually talk to his mother,’’ said Gangadhar’s father Onkarnath Dulai, 65.
Onkarnath said Biswajeet Ghorai of Gangasagar, who too died in the terror strike, and his son were good friends. “He gave us a photograph of them together. And now neither boy is alive. I want the government to attack Pakistan. To avenge our sons’ deaths. The mothers of our country are losing their sons. When is our government going to act?” Onkarnath said.