“We do not want war. Many wives like me will lose their husbands. Many daughters like mine will lose their fathers. But I want those guilty to be punished,” said Mita (32), the wife of personnel Bablu Santra, who was among those killed in the terror attack at Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir.
For most of the day, Mita, the couple’s daughter Payal (6), Santra’s mother Banamala (60) and other family members stayed inside an unfinished house that the jawan was having constructed near their old one. He has two brothers and four sisters.
“We have lost everything. He was the head of the family. None of our family members wants war to happen. But we want justice. We want those responsible to be punished,” said Banamala.
Thousands of people reached the spot to pay their respects to two photos of Bablu, which were displayed near the house. They carried placards, hoardings, flowers and pictures of Santra. The flowers were thrown on the truck carrying Santra’s coffin, which reached a barricaded field outside Santra’s house at 6.35 pm.
The gathered crowd waved Indian flags and chanted slogans such as ‘Bablu Santra Amar Rahein’. Many were perched on the rooftops of nearby buildings.
As the coffin was brought inside the field, the crowd flashed their cellphone torches. Officers of central forces, state police, the district administration and political leaders were present on the field. After the leaders and family members paid homage, a gun salute was held. The body was then taken to the residence and thereafter to a local crematorium.
“There is anger seething in these areas. People want retaliation and justice. We have lost a brother and friend,” said Swapan Mondol, a neighbour of Santra.
“He was the head of the family. He had dreams for us to have a better life. That is why he was building this new house which is almost complete. My father died when we were young. I have lost a father, not a brother,”said Kalyan (30), Bablu’s younger brother.
Meanwhile, the coffin bearing the remains of personnel Sudip Biswas reached Hanspukuria village in Nadia at around 9 pm. A gun salute was held at a nearby community field. The body was then taken to Biswas’s home and then to a crematorium.
“We would have been proud if he had died at the battlefront. But the manner in which he and others were killed is unacceptable. They could not even retaliate. Since there was an alert, we learnt, we think that the government should accept some responsibility,” said Jhumpa, Biswas’s sister, who resides in the same village.