With two of his three sisters still unmarried and an ailing father at home, Sepoy Kuldeep Lakra had learnt to shoulder responsibility from an early age. Wednesday’s avalanche at Batalik Sector in Jammu and Kashmir that killed the 22-year-old, along with two others, also took away the family’s only pillar of strength that had helped them gain some sort of financial stability of late.
Born in Bisaha Khatanga village of Mandar block, around 30 km from Ranchi, Kuldeep joined the Army in 2014, inspired by a distant cousin who is also an Armyman. After training at Danapur Cantonment in Patna for about nine months, he got his first posting in Jammu and Kashmir.
On Saturday, his sister Celin Lakra, now pursuing a B.Ed course, said: “I had asked him to get serious and find work. We lived in a one-room house and my father could only grow wheat on his land – that just about managed to sustain us. I had started teaching in a private school, but that was not enough.”
Once Kuldeep joined the Army, she said, he started helping out the family. “He would tell me that so far I had helped him study and that he would now ensure I complete my studies (B.Ed course),” Celin said. “He cared for everybody – he was planning to fund the education of my brother-in-law (husband of second sister).”
With the financial situation stabilising to an extent, the family was planning to get him married. “We would have surely got him married if whenever he was to come home next. But…” Celin said.
Kuldeep had last gone home in November 2016.
Their father Xavier Lakra, 50, has had operations for appendicitis and hernia. Although successful, the surgeries have stretched his limited financial resources to the limit. They also mean he cannot take up too much work. “It is my humble request that a job be given our family. Otherwise it would again become too difficult for us,” Lakra said.