Sepoy Rakesh Singh, 28
Badhdha village, Kaimur (Bihar)
While on vacation in May, Rakesh Singh, 28, had taken his wife Kiran Kushwaha and their son Harshit, which means happy, to Assam and posed with them outside Kamakhya temple. Showing their photograph to visitors at their half-constructed, brick-and-asbestos home, Rakesh’s Harihar Singh, 68, tried his best to conceal his emotions. Not his wife Rajkawal Devi, who wailed unceasingly for the youngest of her four sons, the only one with a job.
Harihar was upset a chowkidar broke the news to them. “The district administration should have has the basic courtesy to send a senior official to share our sense of grief and pride,” Harihar said.
“We want the Centre to take strong action now,” said Harhangi Singh, one of Rakesh’s brothers. “There have been enough assurances and talk, we want a memorial to my brother. We want the Centre to give a job to Rakesh’s wife.”
Rakesh’s wife was in Delhi and heading to Badda. Villagers are discussing the right spot for a memorial and demanding action against “the enemy”.
“We will not eat a morsel till we hear from the Centre about any strong action. If necessary, we will take out a protest to Patna and Delhi,” said Bajrangi Singh, the eldest brother. “We have lost the star of the family. Rakesh always wanted to wear a uniform. For others, he may be just another soldier but we know what losing a brother means.”
Rakesh joined the Army in 2008, the only one in his family, and one of five persons among the 15,000 residents of Badhdha village. A photograph of Rakesh in uniform brings tears to the eyes of members of the family. “Right from his high school days, Rakesh would run miles and tell us about serving the nation,” said brother Bajrangi Singh.
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Rakesh, who got married in 2012, had not been very comfortable with the hill posting because of the weather. “This was his second posting in Kashmir,” said his father. “We spoke four days ago, he talked about climbing hills and poor mobile connections, and asked us not to call. Who knew it was going to be his last call.” Rakesh had wanted his family to stay with him but then said it was not possible in Uri.
Santosh Kumar Maurya, Rakesh’s nephew, said Rakesh had inspired him to value education. “I live in Patna and prepare for competitive examinations. Uncle gave us a sense not just of pride but also of empowerment in a village.”
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