On Sunday afternoon,Lance Naik J Lalrinngheta of 35 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) called each of his seven younger siblings back home in Tuidam,a small village in Mizorams western Mamit district,and put them all on a conference call.
Say whatever you want. I just want to listen,he told them, recalls his mother Lalmuanpuii. She said they spoke for a long time,laughing about their childhood days. He also listened to the gibberish of his younger sisters newborn. They were all very happy, she said.
The next day was his 34th birthday. Just three and a half hours before his birth time on June 24,Hizbul Mujahideen militants attacked a convoy in Srinagar,J&K. He along with Havildar Lalrohlua of Champai district and seven other soldiers were killed in the incident. Two other soldiers from Mizoram were also injured.
The coffins of Lalrinngheta and Lalrohlua (36) arrived at Lengpui Airport in Aizawl in an Air India flight via Kolkata on Thursday afternoon. Thousands from the eastern and western parts of the state had flocked at the airport. The banner on their vehicles read,Lance Naik J Lalrinngheta. Havildar Lalrohlua. Ram leh hnam tan in nunna in hlan a. Kan ngaisang che u. Kan chhuang che u (You sacrificed your lives for the country. We look up to you. We are proud of you).
As the CRPF men carried the coffins from the runway on their shoulders,women wailed,Why did you have to come back like this in a coffin? Silence descended as soon as airport chaplain Major C Thanhranga began the funeral ceremony at the airport compound. It was attended by Chief Minister Lal Than-hawla Sailo,ministers and scores of ex-servicemen.
P S Mangu,second-in-command of Charlie Company,35 RR,had accompanied the bodies. He said the two soldiers were in the second truck of a convoy when they were attacked. Both were hit in the head and on the right side of their faces.
In all,120 rounds from the militants guns were recovered from the site. Lalrohlua was the first driver,and he was shot in his right ear. J Lalrinngheta was shot in his right chin. Both bullets came out from the other side, he said.
C Lalruata,a neighbour of Lalrohluas family,said representatives of more than 200 of families that migrated from Kelkang to Aizawl had come for the ceremony. The Havildars father,C Malsawma,said in a short speech,Our son has laid down his life for the country,and we are all very proud of him. We hope his sacrifice is a blessing for Mizoram and for India. The soldiers bodies were escorted by relatives and army men to their villages. The funerals have been scheduled for Friday noon.