Jagnarain Singh, 78, has been blind for the last 20 years. But now more than ever, he wishes he could see again. “I still have some strength left in me to fight Pakistan alongside the Indian Army to avenge my son’s death. The way terrorists slayed our soldiers, we should do the same,” said Jagnarain, father of Havildar Ashok Kumar Singh (44), who died in Sunday’s attack.
This is not the first such tragedy to hit the Singh family — in 1986, Jagnarain’s eldest son, Kamta Singh, a 23-year-old sepoy in the Indian Army, had died in a bomb blast in Bikaner.
The Singh family has sent many men to serve the country. Ashok’s eldest son, Vikas Singh, joined recently and is posted as a sepoy at the Danapur Cantonment. Ashok’s grandfather, Rajgrih Singh, and his two uncles, Shyam Narayan Singh and Ramvilas Singh, also served in the Army. Two of his nephews are in the Army as well.
But at the moment, anger runs deep in the household. Blaming the Centre for not doing enough to tackle terrorism, Jagnarain said, “This is the same government that talked of cutting the 10 heads of enemies to avenge the beheading of five Indian soldiers.”
The family was informed of Ashok’s death on Monday morning. Ever since news broke that many of those killed were from the Bihar Regiment, the family had been trying to contact him.
“He had just joined Uri after his battalion moved from Binnaguri (West Bengal). He had come home from July 14-29,” said Surendra Singh, a relative.
Ashok had left his wife Sangeeta at their village in Bihar, promising to take her with him once he got accommodation at his new posting. Ashok’s youngest son, Vishal, is studying in a college in Ara. The Singh family owns a total of three bighas of land.
As villagers and government officials gathered at their single-storey pucca house, Ashok’s wife Sangeeta and mother Rajmunna Devi were inconsolable.
Sangeeta said she had spoken to Ashok three days ago, and he seemed excited at the new challenging posting.
Jitendra Singh, a villager, said, “Ashok joined the Army in 1992 and had decided to settle in the village after his retirement. He would always encourage youths to join the Army.”