The landmine blast in Bihar’s Naxal-dominated Aurangabad district on Tuesday has dealt a body blow to the family of Ajay Kumar, the station house officer (SHO) of Tandwa police station who was among the eight police personnel killed.

The rebels ambushed the police party near Nabinagar. Their vehicle was blown to pieces. The group was on its way back from a monthly crime meeting at nearby Nabinagar.

Ajay Kumar was the sole earning member in his family. His body was brought to his house in Gaya district from Aurangabad on Wednesday afternoon.

Every month, Mr. Kumar (32) sent home money. He provided for the education of his two younger brothers and recently performed his sister’s wedding.

“After Papa’s retirement, he took care of everything,” said his sister Soni Devi. “His earning sustained our family of two parents, seven brothers and three sisters. The other brothers are unemployed.”

Mr. Kumar was recruited to the force in 2009. The Tandwa police station was his first posting as SHO in 2011.

“We were always concerned about his wellbeing since Tandwa is a Naxal area. We kept telling him to take a transfer and he was trying to get one,” said his father Ramshobit Poddar. “His senior officer told him that he would have to wait some more.”

The house in Gaya’s DVC colony where Mr. Kumar grew up is a humble brick structure, its walls thinly plastered with limestone. Only a fortnight ago, it was full of joy when Mr. Kumar’s third sister was married. On November 25, he left home to join duty. On Wednesday, grief and despair was writ large on the face of every family member.

“He was the only ‘daroga’ [SHO], not just in the family, but this whole colony. We were proud of him,” said Archana Devi, a neighbour.

The killing has shaken the family’s faith in the police service. “Only the poor die,” said Shatrughan Kumar Poddar, a cousin.

The family is hoping that the government will offer employment to at least one member of the family.