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Jharkhand: 44 years later, wife brings home soil from ’71 war hero’s grave

Apart from laying wreaths, the Army presented guard of honour before the last remains were taken to Gumla, his native district. Senior state government officials were also present on the occasion.

Written by Prashant Pandey | Ranchi |
Updated: January 17, 2016 2:52:06 am
Army officer ushers in Albert Ekka's widow, Balamadina Ekka (on wheelchair), as she arrives at Birsa Munda Airport, Ranchi, with the soil from her husband's grave in Agartala (Tripura). Army officer ushers in Albert Ekka’s widow, Balamadina Ekka (on wheelchair), as she arrives at Birsa Munda Airport, Ranchi, with the soil from her husband’s grave in Agartala (Tripura). (Photo: Ratan Lal)

THE SOIL from the grave of Param Vir Chakra awardee Lance Naik Albert Ekka, who died in the 1971 Bangladesh war, was brought to Ranchi on Saturday by an eight-member team, including his 86-year-old wife Balamadina Ekka.
Apart from laying wreaths, the Army presented guard of honour before the last remains were taken to Gumla, his native district. Senior state government officials were also present on the occasion.

“It was an emotional moment for all of us. But most importantly, a long wait is now over for Balamadina. She had waited for more than 44 years to see the place where her husband was laid to rest. She told us that she has not brought her husband’s soil, but, indeed her husband. We are grateful to the governments of Tripura and Jharkhand, but the actual credit for making this possible goes to the Army,” said Ratan Tirkey, member of the Jharkhand Tribal Advisory Committee, who led the team that had gone to Agartala to collect the soil.

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As the team arrived at the Birsa Munda Airport here on a plane from Kolkata, Army officials paid their last tributes to the soil brought by Balamadina.

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“We then took out a procession in the city and reached the Albert Ekka Chowk, where his wife garlanded his statue. We are now on the way to his native village Jari in Gumla with state escort,” said Tirkey.

It may be recalled that an attempt by Chief Minister Raghubar Das to hand over soil from Ekka’s grave in December 2015 to Ekka’s family had failed as they were not convinced about its authenticity. Later, a team led by Tirkey was entrusted with the task of taking Balamadina to Ekka’s grave.

“It was her wish that she sees that place for herself and collects the soil from there… The land in village Dhulki (Agartala), Tripura, where his grave existed, had been bought by somebody and a house was built on it. The only memory of that martyrdom was a ‘smarak’ on the road,” said Tirkey.

Ekka attained martyrdom on December 3, 1971, in what is known as the Battle of Hilli in which he silenced two machine guns, but died of injuries.

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