Families Of Fallen Uri Soldiers United In Grief, Disbelief And Anger

"We want revenge."

20/09/2016 8:55 AM IST | Updated 20/09/2016 9:52 AM IST
Mukesh Gupta / Reuters
Soldiers carry a coffin containing the body of their fallen colleague Ravi Paul, killed in Sunday's attack at an Indian army base in Kashmir's Uri.

Lance Naik RK Yadav's wife is pregnant and has not been told of his death. He had asked his mother recently to talk as much she wanted, because he might be out of touch soon in his new posting in the higher ranges.

Sepoy Rakesh Singh's brother Bajrangi Singh has promised not to "eat a morsel" till he hears from the Centre about any strong action against the perpetrators of the heinous act.

Havildar Nimb Singh Rawat will be cremated with state honours on his 48th birthday today. Rawat is survived by his wife, four daughters and a son.

Havildar Ashok Kumar Singh's widow is hooked to an intravenous drip as his mother wails inconsolably. "I lost my gold. I want no trash in return," she says.

During his last cal home, Havildar Ravi Paul Salotra told his young son Vansh to concentrate on his studies if he wanted to be a doctor in the army.

Mukesh Gupta / Reuters
Geeta (C), wife of Ravi Paul, an Indian army soldier who was killed in Sunday's attack at an Indian army base in Kashmir's Uri, reacts upon seeing the body of her husband in Sarwa village in Samba district, south of Jammu, September 19, 2016.

As India grapples with cross-border terrorism and weighs its options in formulating a fitting response after a deadly militant strike at an army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, the stunned families of the fallen soldiers are struggling to come to terms with the loss.

The militants, suspected to have crossed over from Pakistan, killed 18 Indian soldiers on Sunday in a pre-dawn ambush. Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting yesterday, attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag to decide the next course of action. However, military commanders have reportedly warned against immediate military strikes against Pakistan, according to the Indian Express.

The Army has said it reserved the right "to respond to any act of the adversary at the time and place of our own choosing."

"The Indian Army has displayed considerable restraint while handling the terrorist situation both along the Line of Control and in hinterland. However, we have the desired capability to respond to such blatant acts of aggression and violence as deemed appropriate by us," Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said.

Yet, this official stand is of little consolation to the families of martyrs.

Naib Subedar Karnail Singh's son Arun told the media that his father, during his last phone call from Uri on Saturday, had promised to visit home on a "short leave". A promise he will now never fulfil. At his cremation in Bishnah tehsil of Jammu district, his inconsolable family was joined by 6000 people chanting 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai'.

At the hometown of Sepoy Gangadhar Dalui, neighbours have come together to give the son from their village a hero's sendoff. In his two-room hut, his mother told the Express "We had raised him well despite our troubles. God always takes from the poor." Dalui's brother told the paper that he had recently given up meat to protest animal cruelty.

In Ghazipur, Harendra Yadav's neighbours recall how the brave army man had rescued people and animals from a burning hut in March.

Naik Sunil Kumar Vidyarthi's wife has appealed to the PM to "take revenge from Pakistan and give a befitting reply". The anger is palpable. The next of kin demand answers from the government.

Septuagenarian Jagnarain Singh has now lost two sons in the Indian army to terrorist strikes. "I still have some strength left in me to fight Pakistan alongside the Indian Army to avenge my son's death. The way terrorists slayed our soldiers, we should do the same," said Jagnarain, father of Ashok Kumar.

According to the Express, Jagnarain's eldest son Kamta Singh was killed in 1986 in a bomb blast in Bikaner.

However, if there's one thing that connects the families of the fallen soldiers, it is their resolve not to let Sunday's attack break their determination to send future generations to serve the Indian army.

Ravi Paul wanted both his sons to join the army.

"Now it is our duty to make sure that the dream of our brother is fulfilled," his brother says.

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