Rifleman Biswa Sonowal of the Assam Rifles had planned to apply for voluntary retirement and return home permanently by April 2016.
But, fate had planned something else for him. Forty-eight-year old Sonowal was one of the eight soldiers killed in the ambush by NSCN(K) militants in Nagaland’s remote Mon district on Sunday.
The body of Sonowal, who hailed from Natabari village in eastern Assam’s Lakhimpur district, reached home on Tuesday night, over 56 hours after he lost his life. Chaklangshu, where he was killed, is over 500 km from his native village.
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“My bhindeu (elder sister’s husband) had told us in February that he had served the country for long fighting against insurgents in different parts of the Northeast. He was supposed to come home later this month in order to complete the renovation of his house,” said Ajit Sonowal, the slain soldier’s brother-in-law. He added that Sonowal had also planned to set up his own business and ensure that his
three daughters— Nabanita, Madhumita and Bobby —pursue higher studies.
The soldiers’ wife Jyoti, who has been suffering from rheumatic pain for several years now, has been on saline drip for the past two days, as also his mother Puhita.
Sonowal had called up his wife about two hours before they were ambushed. An officer of 23 Assam Rifles had called up Jyoti late at night to pass on the bad news.
The soldier who joined Assam Rifles in September 1988 was not just the eldest of three sons of ailing farmer Gangaram Sonowal and Puhita Sonowal, but also the family’s sole bread-winner.
His parents lived with him, while his younger brothers, both of them daily wage earners, lived separately.
Sonowal’s eldest daughter Nabanita said: “Deuta generally came home during rongali bihu. This time he said he would get leave towards the end of May. Nabanita, who was married off to Dhemaji district three years ago has a seven-month old baby.