National

Bereaved families put on a brave front

Naik Sunil Kumar Vidyarthi's wife Kiran Devi (second from left) and relatives break down after the hearing the news of his death, in Gaya on Monday. Photo: Special Arrangement  

“I’m proud of my father, he is not dead but has been martyred. The way terrorists from Pakistan attacked India all of a sudden, India too should retaliate, then only Pakistan will mend its ways,” said Aarti Kumari, the elder daughter of Naik Sunil Kumar Vidyarthi, one of the 17 soldiers who lost their lives in the terror attack at Uri in Jammu Kashmir.

Aarti, 14, along with her younger sisters, Anshu, 12, and Ashika, 7, fought hard to hold back tears and much to the surprise of many, even appeared for their examinations at DAV School in Gaya.

Sunil Kumar Vidyarthi, who joined the Army in 1998, has also left behind a two-year-old son. His wife, Kiran Devi, has been living in Gaya for the schooling of the daughters.

Sunil Kumar was the second son of Mathura Yadav and had joined duty in Uri three months ago. “Only on Saturday I had spoken to him on the phone and he told me that his leave for Dussehra had been sanctioned,” said a wailing Kiran Devi. Ever since the news spread neighbours and relatives have been visiting the family to share their grief.

“He had assured me that he would get our ancestral house repaired during Dussehra vacation, but God willed otherwise,” said father Mathura Yadav at village Boknari in Gaya. Mother Kunti Devi, who was inconsolable, cried, “ Mera Lal Babu (Sunil’s nickname) Dussehra mein jaroor aayega (he will definitely come home for Dussehra).”

Similar was the situation at Havildar Ashok Kumar Singh’s home at Raktu village in Bhojpur district. Wailing wife Sangita Singh kept losing her consciousness and had to be administered saline water. Father Jagnarayan Singh, controlling his tears, said, “Who will not feel proud of a son who has sacrificed his life for the nation? But Pakistan must be taught a lesson in a similar fashion.” His elder son Kamta Singh too was martyred on September 6, 1986 while taking on infiltrators in Rajasthan. Kamta Singh’s two sons, Vinod and Dadan Singh, are also in the army. Vishal Singh, the elder son of Havildar Ashok Singh, is also in the service of the army.

At the home of another martyr, Sepoy Rakesh Kumar Singh, in Baddha village of Kaimur district, father Harihar Kushwaha said, “The entire village is proud of his sacrifice.” Rakesh Kumar’s wife was wailing inside amid family relatives and other village women. Outside the house, gathered villagers expressed their anger against Pakistan. “If Pakistan has guts why don’t they fight an open war with India to claim Kashmir? Why do they attack us from behind from time to time?” said one villager.

The Bihar government announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 5 lakh each to the family of the three soldiers from the state who died in the Uri attack. It also declared that their last rites would be performed with full state honours.

The bodies of the three soldiers, to be flown in to Varanasi, was expected to reach respective their villages by late Monday evening.