Updated: December 10, 2021 11:15:02 am
On Wednesday morning, para commando Lance Naik Vivek Kumar (28) called up his wife Priyanka to enquire about their six-month-old son. He chatted for a while, heard his son gurgle and, before hanging up, told his wife that he was going to Karnataka with General Sahib.
Since being informed of her husband’s death in Wednesday’s helicopter crash near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, Priyanka has been in shock. “She is unable to process the news,” her father-in-law Ramesh Chand says. Thirteen people were killed in the crash, including Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat and his wife Madhulika Rawat.
Vivek’s mother Asha Devi is inconsolable. She breaks into loud wails as locals pour into their house in Thathera Thehedu village in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra to condole the death of the young man.
He was her favourite child. When Vivek got into the fauj after several attempts, his family was proud. “Even as a child, all he wanted to do was join the Army,” says his elder sister Rajni, still coming to terms with the loss. Rajni was left in a daze after she called up her mother on Wednesday and heard her cries. “I saw visuals of the crash on television, but little did I know that my brother was also on board.”
Born in 1993, Vivek joined the Army in 2012. As the sole bread-winner of the family, he took his responsibilities seriously. His sister Rajni is married, while younger brother Sumit is looking for work. He had been on CDS Rawat’s staff for the last two years. When the family became financially stable, they conducted Vivek’s wedding in 2020.
“After the birth of his son Divansh, he came home a month and a half ago. He used to say that he would send his son to the Army after giving him a good education,” sighs Ramesh Chand.
On Thursday morning, Army officials visited the family to collect blood samples to carry out DNA verification of the bodies charred beyond recognition. Jaisinghpur SDM Pawan Sharma said he called on the grieving family. “Hopefully, Vivek Kumar’s remains will reach here late evening on Friday. We are in touch with the family and will make the required arrangements,” he said. Local MLA Ravinder Dhiman, among others, visited the bereaved family.