After news of the death of rifleman Karamjeet Singh (24) during a ceasefire violation along the border reached his family in Janer village of Punjab’s Moga district Monday, his father Avtar Singh (58), also a former Armyman, had but one question for the prime minister: For how much longer would jawans fall prey to the mudslinging between India and Pakistan?
Speaking to The Indian Express, Avtar Singh said that like many other youths in the state, Karamjeet too wanted to live abroad, but he had stopped him and asked him to join the Army.
According to the defence ministry, Karamjeet was seriously injured in unprovoked firing by Pakistan troops along the LoC in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri in Jammu & Kashmir at around 5.30 am. He later succumbed to his injuries. Three other soldiers were also injured in the firing.
The soldier’s aged mother Kulwant Kaur fainted on hearing the news. The last time she spoke to him on phone, he had told her to prepare his favourite dish — fresh khoya with dry fruits — when he came home next.
Avtar Singh, who had retired from the Indian Army as naik, said that though he is proud his son died fighting for the country, he wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “find a permanent solution to our issues with Pakistan and save young men who are sacrificing their lives every other day at the border.”
“Karamjeet had joined the Army in 2015 after completing Class XII. He actually wanted to migrate and settle abroad, but I had stopped him as we did not have the money to help him do so. I suggested to him that he join the Army so he does not fell prey to drugs and liquor which often happens to children in Punjab’s villages if they are unemployed for long. He liked playing kabaddi,” he added.
The former armyman asked why children of poor families are suffering due to the India-Pakistan standoff with no solution in sight. “I want to ask the government why we are unable to find a permanent solution to our issues with Pakistan. That country is supporting terrorism and also killing our sons on the border. I appreciate that we did air strikes in Balakot to take revenge for the Pulwama attack, but nothing has changed. How long will this go on? News channels keep boasting about the might of our army, air force and navy but what is the use of all this if we have to get our soldiers killed? I am not in favour of any war, war only means destruction. But if this is how soldiers have to die on a daily basis, then why not get it over with for once and all?” asked Avtar Singh, shaking with anger.
He further said, “Stone pelters who are separatists and want to divide India are supported by the government but armymen are left to die. They pelt stones on our forces but are saved and protected. Are armymen meant to die and their families left to suffer for life? My world has come down crashing today…No one can understand this pain except us who lost our child…”
Karamjeet was posted in J&K for the past year and a half. He was supposed to come home to attend a family wedding on March 16 but his leave was cancelled. He has an elder brother, Swaran, and sister, Satbir Kaur. “My elder son is a farmer and we have three acres of land. I request the government to provide him a job,” said Avtar Singh.
Karamjeet’s body will be brought to his native village on Tuesday for last rites. Dharamkot MLA Kaka Sukhjeet Singh Lohgarh visited the family on Monday to pay condolences.
Village sarpanch Malwinder Singh appealed to the government to assure a monthly income for his aged parents.