Hemraj’s village in Mathura angry at “meek” response by Indian government

Four days after Lance Naik Hemraj Singh, whose body was found mutilated along the India-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir, was cremated, his family members refuse to believe that the body was his.

Hemraj of 13 Rajputana Rifles and his comrade Sudhakar Singh were killed by Pakistani soldiers in the Poonch sector on January 8.

Hemraj’s wife Dharmvati and mother Meena Devi are on indefinite fast demanding that “if the body was indeed his” then his severed head be returned to them.

As their health deteriorated a team of doctors rushed to the village to provide them medical help. A PTI report said the two were being administered intravenous fluid. According to Dr. Mohit Bansal, medical officer of Kosi Kalan hospital, “their vitals are stable and blood pressure is normal.”

Dr. P.K. Gupta, who also attended on them, said, “Both have developed acute dehydration.”

Earlier, amid continued mourning, which could be seen in and around Hemraj’s house in Sher Nagar village in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, Ms. Dharmvati said: “I am not ready to believe the person who got killed was my husband. I haven’t seen the head.”

While dealing with the tragedy, the initial response of pride at having a martyr in the family, gave way to deep mourning.

Ms. Dharmvati broke down while remembering how her husband’s mortal remains were brought to the village in a tricolour-draped coffin and cremated barely hundred metres from her house, but she couldn’t see him even for one last time. It would be too shocking, she was told.

“I was expecting to meet him in February. In fact, I had also told him about what he has to bring for our children Nirmal, Prince and Shivani,” said Ms. Dharmvati.

Among the final memories she has of her husband was when Hemraj called her four days before he was killed.

Jai Singh, the martyr’s brother, who is also on a hunger strike, also sounded a note of doubt. “What was brought to us was a body covered in white sheet. Now it could be anyone’s body. We were not allowed to see what was inside,” he said, highlighting that he has spent his childhood with Hemraj and knew that he had a mole on the back.

“I would have checked it but they didn’t allow me to do that,” he added.

“Meek response”

The family is mourning but the villagers are seething with anger at the “meek” response by the Indian government to the Pakistani assault. What they specifically highlighted was the “futility” of the bilateral talks and cricket series when “Pakistan continues to dishonour every bilateral agreement.”

Hemraj’s cousin Bhagwan Singh, a production engineer in the Bisleri plant in New Delhi, said their fight was not for money but for honour. “Many soldiers die on the border. But the way my brother was killed was a dishonour and insult to the entire country. We want that to be avenged.”

Ranjeet Singh, Hemraj’s neighbour, asked: “Why can’t India avenge the manner in which Pakistani soldiers infiltrated Indian territory and brutally killed its two soldiers?”

Mr. Singh was not alone in asking India to teach Pakistan a “lesson.” The chorus for vengeance grew only louder with almost everybody in the crowd of villagers mourning outside Hemraj’s house demanding a proportionate response from the Centre.

The villagers were also angry at the State government as days after the tragedy nobody from the government had either participated in the funeral or visited the family.

While several effigies of Pakistan were burnt on Sunday, some talk of organising a “Mathura bandh” was also heard from the crowd.