Sonali Sharma, 22, was looking forward to next week. Her husband, Sepoy Vijay Kumar, was to come home on leave and the couple, who got married in February, had been making plans.
But on Thursday, Sonali’s world was shattered after news came in that her 28-year-old husband was among the 18 soldiers of the 6 Dogra regiment who were killed in the ambush in Manipur.
Hailing from a remote Serh village in border Khour area along the Line of Control (LoC), Vijay was the first from his family to join the Army, six years ago. His marriage with Sonali was solemnised on February 22 and after spending a little over a month with her, he left home for Manipur on April 1 to resume duty. Before leaving, he had promised to return home in June as his two-year posting in the field was coming to an end.
When their vehicle was ambushed, Vijay and other members of his unit were returning home on leave as their next posting was at Chandigarh. He had called Sonali on phone Wednesday evening to tell her that he will leave the area in a convoy the next day. Vijay had also promised his parents that he will take them along if he got family accommodation in Chandigarh, said his father, Dewan Chand, 70.
He said Vijay had been keen to join the Army since his childhood, but was always dissuaded by his grandmother Nainti Devi. However, after her death in 2006, he joined the Army.
Like Vijay’s family, the family of Havildar Randeep Singh was also waiting for his body to arrive home at Bomal village in Serh — just a few kilometres away. Randeep too had got his new posting in Chandigarh. Before joining, he had planned to come home on leave from June 15.
The family, including his mother Raj Kumari, wife Rani Devi and two minor daughters, had plans to move to his newly-constructed house. A neighbour said Randeep was supposed to come home last month, but his leave was cancelled.
Six soldiers from Jammu and Kashmir were killed in the ambush. Others were Havaldar Satpal Bhasin from Muthi; Havaldar Sunil Kumar Sharma from Phal; Naib Subedar Ram Singh of Nandpur; and Lance Naik Kuldeep Raj of Burn.
Defence ministry spokesperson Lt Colonel Manish Mehta said the bodies will arrive in Jammu late Saturday and they will be cremated with full military honors on Sunday.