Published On: November 3, 2016 01:20 AM NPT By: Rohit Rai
DHARAN, Nov 3: News of tensions on the India-Pakistan line of control in Kashmir had stolen his peace of mind since over a month ago. Bal Bahadur Tamang of Dharan-11 could not sleep well. Sometimes he would wake up in the middle of the night and turn on the Indian news channels. Reports of gunfire in Kashmir would make his heart beat faster.
His youngest son Bimal, who was in the Indian army, was deployed in the troubled zone.
Bimal, who had joined the Indian army a few years ago, was a rifleman with the 7/11 Gorkha Regiment, stationed in the area four months ago.
“The undeclared war' between the two countries made us very restless. His mother and I would watch the TV channels till late at night,” said Bal Bahadur. “We could only pray for his safety.”
On the day of Laxmi Puja on Sunday, Bimal had called his parents. They exchanged greetings over the phone and Bimal told them not to worry. “He had called when he was down at the base from the security post to collect his belongings, and we told him that Aajtak was showing all the ongoing tension, even the gunfire,” said Bal Bahadur.
“Don't worry, the news channels exaggerate things, they report anything,” he quoted Bimal as replying. "Everything is fine here."
The next day in the evening, Bimal's parents were busy attending to some deusi groups.
Bal Bahadur had just returned home after offering dakshina to one such group at a crossroads. His wife Naramaya was knitting tapari. The phone rang. The number was unfamiliar. He felt shivers down his spine and hesitated to respond. When he did take the call, his worst fears were confirmed. The caller identified himself as speaking from the 7/11th Gorkhas and informed him that his son was no more. “I was so scared when receiving the call, and my worst fears materialised,” said the bereaved father. Bimal had breathed his last in the morning but the news was broken to the parents in the evening.
According to Bal Bahadur, his son was coming back from morning patrolling when they opened fire from the other side. “That's the fate of army personal; you never know when the end will come,” he said, holding back tears.
As the youngest member of the family, Bimal was a pampered son, and losing him at the age of just 20 was more than one could bear, said the father. “We tried to get back his body but to no avail, and the last rites were performed by the army the next day," he added.
Bal Bahadur's second son Kishor is also in the Indian army. He returned home at midnight on Monday. He said the bodies of fallen soldiers are not sent back home but are cremated by the army with full honors. “But the ashes will be sent in a few days,” said Kishor.
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