Two days after he was killed in a gun battle with militants in Manipur, the mortal remains of Major Amit Deswal of 21 Para were consigned to flames at Surheti village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district on Friday.
Armed forces officials, both serving and retired, relatives and hundreds of people, including politicians, officials and social workers from nearby villages, paid last respect to Major Deswal as the casket wrapped in Tricolour proceeded on a final journey. His younger brother, Ankit Deswal, lit the funeral pyre amid slogans of ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ and ‘Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Amit Deswal tera naam rahega’.
Major Dewal’s body was brought to Delhi Friday morning, where Chief of Army Staff, Gen Dalbir Singh, paid homage to the deceased soldier, and thereafter brought to Jhajjar in a special helicopter. The late officer’s father Rishi Raj, wife Neeta and three-year-old son Arjun, all of them were in Jorhat, where the commando officer was allotted accommodation, were in the same chopper.
At the cremation, as Rishi Raj, a retired Subedar, carrying the child in his arms, wept and said that the braveheart had died in the true traditions of a warrior, Arjun, too, sensing something amiss, kept asking for his father.
Haryana Agriculture Minister Om Prakash Dhankar announced financial assistance of Rs 50 lakh for the family and a government job to Major Deswal’s immediate dependent. Along with Dhankar, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Director General of Police K P Singh and several MLAs were present at the cremation.
Major Deswal had taken two bullets in his stomach during a gunfight with ZUF militants in the densely forested Nungba area Wednesday. He was part of a joint operation by Rashtriya Rifles and Special Forces. His body could not be immediately recovered due to inclement weather and dense forests. It was recovered Thursday evening from a remote place in Tamenglong district of Manipur and flown to Imphal for postmortem.
An officer present at the cremation said, “The most important thing for all of us is the inspiration he had always been.”
Major Deswal’s friends said he was so determined to join armed forces that he went to some eight coaching institutes in Delhi and Haryana to prepare for the entrance exams before clearing CDS exam in 2005. He was 19 at the time. “He was physically robust and loved challenges. Initially it was his father’s dream but then it became his dream to join the forces,” said an officer who joined the Regiment of Artillery with Major Deswal.