Sepoy Rajesh Kumar Gupta's wife Kiran and son Ayush.
Major Atul Garje's mother Chandra Bhaga, a teacher.
Sepoy Nagalingam's mother Sellamma.
Sepoy Panneer Selvam's wife Jyothi.
| Photos Courtesy: Havildar Shivakumar V K, MEG |
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Widows and mothers of brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country, share heart rendering stories to Express and hold their head high with pride as they set to receive the prestigious Gallantry Awards posthumously (Sena Medal) from the Indian Army. These Veer Naris, as they are often addressed with honour, have come as far as Ahmednagar in Mahrashtra to attend the Southern Command’s Investiture Ceremony being held at MEG and Centre on January 15.
He loved fish curry & rice: Sepoy Panneer Selvam Rajendran’s (26) father deserted him at the age of two after his mother’s death. Life was tough for him and his brother Shakthivel, until relatives decided to look after them in Thiruvannamala (Tamil Nadu). He was very caring and served the Army for eight years until getting shot on his head during a combing operation in Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir on June 27, 2010. Before succumbing to the bullet, he provided covering fire and ensured the terrorists didn’t have any escape route. “He never told me anything about the operation the day before when he telephoned me. He loved fish curry and rice and praised me how well I cooked last time when he was home. I worship him now every day,” says Jyothi, who lost her husband just two years after the marriage.
A sweater for mom & warm memories: Twenty-five-year-old Sepoy Nagalingam Panchavarnam’s mother was ready with a suitable girl. After all, he never went against of his mother Sellamma. “He was a great kabadi player and our house is full of his trophies. With his salary, we finished the basement of our house. He got me sarees and a nice brown sweater. He promised three of his friends from Shivaganga (Tamil Nadu) that he would get them into the Army. But..,” said Sellamma, unable to control her emotions. Nagalingam too lost his life in the 2010 operations in Kupwara. The family performs puja every Friday in front of a box that contains Nagalingam’s gold medal, belt, shoes, cap and uniform. “I am very proud of my son, but if I was lucky just one more time to see him,” says Sellamma.
Papa is not at home: Ayush is now four-years-old now and he lost his father Sepoy Rakesh Kumar Gupta while saving civilians from flash floods in Leh in August 6, 2010. He was just over two years then and didn’t know much about what had happened. “Now he tells everyone that his papa is not at home. I am garnering courage to support him and get really worried when Aysh falls sick. I am now living for him,” says Kiran Gupta. She had to take double blow when her second son -- seven-month-old Anus -- succumbed to dengue fever just two months after losing her husband. Rakesh watched an Army recruitment rally and later and began rigorous practice sessions alone only to get into the Army in his first attempt. The family now runs a tea stall in Hyderabad and hopes to make a better living with the benefits from the state government.
The role model lives in their hearts: When Major Atul Garje was three-years-old he used to barge into his mother Chandra Bhaga’s classroom screaming the alphabets. “He was very brilliant. He was the topper in Sainik School, NDA and whatever he did in his live, including squash. He won the Adarsh Vidyarhti (Model Student) title in school and was boy with a huge heart,” says Bhaga. A chopper crash in Nasik took the life of Arm Aviation’s smart instructor at the age of 28, leaving behind his brother, teacher-parents, wife and daughter Taniksha, who recently turned one. His father Uttam Rao is seeking government help following family concerns after his son’s death. (In the same crash, Major Bhau Chandar too died and his family members didn’t arrive in Bangalore while Express put together this piece.)
Important Command duty: Speaking to Express, Brig Gurdip Singh said it is an important Command duty to take care the needs of Veer Naris. “We play the connecting role between state government and these families. Our men also take care of all their needs as a matter of pride and on priority,” Gurdip said, while overseeing the Army Day preparations at Basantar Auditorium at MEG, late on Friday.
|Copyright@The New Indian Express|