Ranchi: The violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan Valley has led to the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers. Two among them were from Jharkhand — Ganesh Hansda (21), resident of Kasafaliya village in East Singhbhum district, and Kundan Kant Ojha (26), native of Dihari village in Sahibganj district.
A pall of gloom has descended on both their houses ever since the news of their death reached the respective villages.
Ojha belonged to an agrarian family, while Hansda’s parents are daily labourers. Both were sole government employees in their families.
Ojha was married just a year ago, and his 17-day-old baby girl was born on 1 June.
‘Last spoke 20 days ago’
On Wednesday, a small crowd gathered in front of Hansda’s house. Block-level government officials also arrived to enquire about the well-being of the family members.
Hansda’s brother Dinesh told ThePrint: “At home, all three of us, my mother (Kapra Hansda), father (Sugda Hansda) and me work as labourers. Only my younger brother was in the Army.”
“Only a few months ago, we had paid off some old debt with the help of his salary,” he said.
“I would urge the government to please do something for us. My brother had toiled hard to get enrolled in the Indian Army. Both of us studied while working as labourers,” said Dinesh, who now seems to have lost all hope and courage.
“Both of us passed the matriculation exam in third division. He chose science in Class 12. I did a course from ITI and started looking for employment. My brother got a job in the Army in 2018. We were very happy that now our entire debt will be paid off.”
Talking about Hansda’s last home visit, he said: “He had come home in January this year and paid a large part of the debt. Now only a little amount is left to pay. Ladakh was his first posting. But he could not send money after reaching there. We last spoke about 20 days ago. He said he was fine, and there was nothing to worry.”
Dinesh said he was informed about his brother’s death Tuesday evening by a colonel and as soon as he got the news, he started to tremble.
“Colonel sir told me not to inform my parents right now and give them the information Wednesday morning. I spent my night in the room weeping all the time. But around 2 am, I lost my courage and informed my parents about Ganesh’s death,” he said as he wept and disconnected the call.
Ojha’s wife not told about his death yet
On Tuesday, Ojha’s house in his village was also teeming with crowds and neighbours. His 60-year-old father Ravi Shankar Ojha is completely devastated and chanting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ non-stop, said Ojha’s cousin Manoj.
Ojha’s wife Neha has not been told about his death yet. She was only told that Ojha is sick and will return home soon.
Manoj told ThePrint the body will be accompanied by a subedar-major of the Army and the family is in constant touch with him. He said the subedar-major told him the body will first arrive in Patna Thursday and then to their village.
According to Manoj, Ojha was the only member in the family to have bagged a government job. His father and two brothers — an elder and a younger one — are farmers.
Ojha, who was recruited in the Army in 2011, was shouldering the entire family’s responsibility.
Manoj told ThePrint a block development officer and a circle officer had come to meet them Tuesday night. Apart from them, no one else has spoken to the family yet.
No relief announced yet
The Jharkhand government is yet to make an announcement of compensation for the aggrieved families.
Asked about it, sources at the Chief Minister’s Office told ThePrint this is because nothing has been officially stated by the government of India yet nor have all the deceased soldiers been identified.
As soon as the central government officially informs the state, assistance packages for their families will be announced, sources added.
Chief Minister Hemant Soren Wednesday expressed grief over the killing of the soldiers in a tweet, saying: “Whenever the borders or sovereignty of our country have been threatened, sons from Jharkhand have sacrificed their lives and protected it.”
“…These sacrifices by brave heart Jharkhandi sons while defending sovereignty of our country will be remembered for centuries,” he wrote.
भारत-चीन सीमा में हिंसक गतिरोध के दौरान फिर एक झारखण्डी शेर गणेश हांसदा जी के शहीद होने की खबर सुनकर मन व्याकुल है। कल भी झारखण्डी वीर कुंदन ओझा जी के शहीद होने की खबर आई थी।
देश की संप्रभुता की रक्षा में वीर झारखण्डी सपूतों का बलिदान सदियों तक याद रखा जाएगा। https://t.co/cLkPXSNo99 pic.twitter.com/N1gyU2xxko
— Hemant Soren (घर में रहें – सुरक्षित रहें) (@HemantSorenJMM) June 17, 2020
Former chief minister and BJP’s legislature party leader Babulal Marandi also expressed condolences, both on his and party’s behalf, for the families, and said the entire country will be indebted to these jawans.
चीनी सैनिकों से #GalwanVally में हुई झड़प में शहीद हुए 20 जवानों की सूची में #jharkhand के एक संथाल भाई का नाम भी शामिल है। वीरगति प्राप्त करने वाले गणेश हांसदा बहरागोड़ा के निवासी थे। मेरी और मेरी पार्टी की पूरी संवेदना पीड़ित परिवार के साथ है। 1/2#Ladakh pic.twitter.com/WELz1SkBbi
— Babulal Marandi (@yourBabulal) June 17, 2020