Politicians React As Families Mourn The Galwan Loss

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by Khalid Bashir Gura

SRINAGAR: As the families who have lost their dear ones in the Chinese assault in Galwan valley, the Kashmir politicians have started reacting to the face-off.

Army convoy moving along Srinagar-Leh national highway, at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on June 17, 2020. The road is safest road link to Ladakh where Chinese incursions have taken place. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

“Here in lies the problem with very public ownership (in a marked departure from previous governments) of the surgical strikes after Uri & Pulwama,” former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, tweeted. “How does one react to soldiers deaths in Ladakh at the hands of a much stronger force without appearing weak or reckless.”

Omar successor, Mehbooba Mufti also reacted. Since she is still in custody – held at home, her twitter handle is being handled by her daughter. A tweet came

Another former Chief Minister’s twitter handle currently operated by her daughter also tweeted in context of recent development at LAC. A tweet came from that handle too.

“Heartbreaking & one cant even fathom the sheer helplessness that countless families of troops posted on LaC must feel tonight,” the tweet reads. “BJPs reckless & abrasive policies both domestic & external is responsible for this mess. Sadly even stating the obvious will invite the anti-national tag.”

Mehbooba’s daughter added in another tweet: “Seems like China has hijacked the aggressive ‘ghar main ghuske marengay’ militaristic approach. The nation deserves to know why there is no talk of retaliation to avenge the death of three Indian army personnel!”

As the toll touched 20, with a possibility of it getting up, the reactions are mostly the uncomfortable questions being raised by the entire political class across India. It was in wake of these reactions that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for an all-party meeting. Prime on Wednesday said that the sacrifices of soldiers “will not go in vain”. Stating that India wants peace, the Prime Minister, however, sounded a warning saying that the country is “capable of giving a befitting reply, if instigated”, reported Indian Express.

Police personnel stop vehicles at Srinagar-Leh national highway, at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district June 17, 2020. The road is open but no civilian movement, other than essential services, is permitted. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Late on Tuesday night, the Army confirmed that the number of soldiers killed in the “violent face-off” with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley on Monday night had risen to 20. The slain soldiers were identified by are:

  1. Colonel Santosh Babu, Commanding Officer 16 Bihar regiment,
  2. Havildar Pazhani
  3. Sepoy Ojha.
  4. Bengal’s Rajesh Orang and
  5. Himachal Pradesh’s Sepoy Ankush Thakur.
  6. Naib Subedar Nuduram Soren,
  7. Naib Subedar Mandeep Singjh,
  8. Naib Subedar Satnam Singh,
  9. Havildar Sunil Kuma,
  10. Havildar Bipul Roy,
  11. Naik Deepak Kumar,
  12. Sepoy Ganesh Ram,
  13. Sepoy Chandrakanta Pradhan,
  14. Sepoy Gurbinder,
  15. Sepoy Gurtej Singh,
  16. Sepoy Chandan Kumar,
  17. Sepoy Kundan Kumar,
  18. Sepoy Aman Kumar,
  19. Sepoy Jai Kishore Singh,
  20. Sepoy Ganesh Hansda.

The media has extensively reported the response from the families of the soldiers who were killed by the Chinese in the violent face off.

Sepoy Gurbinder Singh (22)

“My father and I are finding it tough to keep the news from my mother, who loved her youngest son the most,” Gurpreet Singh, elder brother of Gurbinder was quoted by The Tribune saying.

Gurbinder had studied up to twelfth class and had joined the Army in 2018. Labh Singh, father of the deceased, was inconsolable when someone asked him about when the body would arrive reported the tribune.

K Palani

The brave havildar had planned to retire from the army next year, after serving on India’s borders for 22 years, according to The New Indian Express.

“Passion and poverty drove the martyred 40-year-old Indian Army soldier K Palani from Kadukkalur village in Ramanathapuram district to join the armed forces at the age of 18,” the newspaper reported.

Palani was the elder son of the farmer couple Kalimuthu and Logambal at Kadukkalur village in Tiruvadanai taluk of Ramanathapuram district and is survived by his wife P Vanathi Devi (35) and two children — a son aged 10 and a daughter aged 8,” the paper reports.

Palani’s blood, sweat and tears went into educating his brother and marrying off his sister, family sources recalled.

After 22 years of toil at the Indian borders braving extreme climatic conditions and his struggle with poverty, it was only on June 3 that his family finally moved into their own house in Kazhugoorani (Ramanathapuram taluk), built taking a loan of about Rs 17 lakhs.

“Palani last visited his family in January but could not attend the housewarming that he was looking much forward to. Having led a life full of struggles, having built his own house, we thought things were finally turning out well for him since he planned to retire next year. His untimely demise has shaken the family for whom he was the pillar of strength throughout his lifetime,” the villagers told the newspaper.

Rajesh Orang, 26

Elder to two sisters, Rajesh Orang, 26, was the sole breadwinner of his family. He had joined the Army in 2015. Rajesh Orang from West Bengal’s Birbhum district was the first person from the Orang family to have joined the Army.

Rajesh’s father, Subhas Orang, bedridden, a tribal farmer at Belgharia village in Birbhum’s Mohammadbazar, told the media persons: “Yesterday, we got a call from the headquarters about my son’s demise. I am glad he died fighting. I will be relieved if the government gives a befitting reply to his killers,” reports The Indian Express.

Sepoy Kundan Kumar

The father of Sepoy Kundan Kumar, who was killed during the Galwan Valley clash, has said that he will send his grandsons too for the service of the nation. “My son sacrificed his life for the nation. I have two grandsons, I will send them too,” the bereaved father said.

Sepoy Ankush Thakur

A pall of gloom descended on Karohta village when tragic news reached here about the demise of Sepoy Ankush Thakur in the clash. The 21-year-old sepoy was recruited to the Punjab Regiment in 2018 and was a resident of Karohta, a village in Bhoranj subdivision.

His father and grandfather had also served in the Indian Army.

As soon as the information about his death was made public, the Gram Panchayat Karohta resorted to anti-China slogans.

Border Security Force (BSF) stand guard at a checkpoint along with a Srinagar Ladakh, the highway at Gagangeer in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district June 17, 2020.
KL image: Bilal Bahadur

People rushed to Thakur’s house once the news of his demise reached the village and they expressed condolences to his family.

Naib Subedar Mandeep Singh

Naib Subedar Mandeep Singh who was killed on the LAC in the Galwan Valley clash in Ladakh was the sole breadwinner of his family comprising of his mother, wife and two children.

The family, including his mother Shakuntla, wife Gurdeep Kaur, and two children Mehakpreet (17) and Jobanpreet (12) and an aunt, were inconsolable hearing the news of his demise.

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About Author

A Mass Communication and Journalism postgraduate from the University of Kashmir, Khalid is a writer by choice and a journalist by chance.

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