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Father fights grief over death of commando son in Kupwara

Father fights grief over death of commando son in Kupwara

Author: Ashwani Sharma
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: March 28, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/with-pride-father-fights-grief-over-death-of-commando-son-in-kupwara/440094/

Commando Anil Kumar Chauhan, of the 1 Para, was a 29-year-old man of very few words.

On his return home to this Himachal village from Mumbai where he was part of the NSG team deployed at Nariman House, Chauhan stayed for six days and yet he rarely talked about what happened those 60 hours fighting the Lashkar-e-Toiba. And now, says his father Gyan Chand, that he has returned as a martyr after being killed on March 21 fighting the Lashkar in Kupwara - in the biggest infiltration attempt across the LoC this year - there's "no one to tell us the story of his valour."

"You will be surprised to know he didn't even tell us he was in Mumbai until we saw him very briefly on a TV channel," says Chand, formerly with the BSF. "All of us kept watching TV hoping we would get another glimpse but it was only when he returned to Delhi that he told us he was there."

It was on Monday that the Lance Naik's body arrived in this village, 13 km from Hamirpur town, wrapped in the Tricolour. This was his second stint in the Valley after 2006 when he was selected for para-commando training at Agra and sent to the NSG on deputation.

The last his father heard from him was on March 19 when Chauhan called up to ask about his 2-year-old son Ashish - whether the child could make out the father's voice. "Then we heard nothing until they told us he had made the supreme sacrifice battling against enemies of the country," says the father.

Since that day, Anil's mother has been traumatised, barely being able to speak. Chauhan's wife, Neena Kumari, is in deep shock. The child never leaves his grandfather's lap. "I am proud of what my son did and since I am from the paramilitary, I can understand what his mother is going through. The only thing I can do is expect her and my daughter-in-law to be like me."

Chauhan's brother's in the Army, there are seven others in the extended family with an Army background. Not surprising in Tapre village, which has 120 families and seven out of ten have men in the Army or the paramilitary.

To ease the pain of the loss, villagers and relatives gather around and talk of how Chauhan made the village proud.

"The threat posed by terrorists is far more serious than a war and we don't know how many more Anil Kumars will die trying to fight," says uncle Kashmir Chand. "We have at least three martyrs from the Kargil war, now Anil is the latest."

Chauhan, a graduate from a Hamirpur college, enrolled for a degree course in human rights via correspondence and had only recently taken his exams. He was married three years ago, his wife is a history post-graduate. Says his uncle: "Anil was a daredevil in spirit but very soft at heart. Right from his childhood, he wanted to join the Army and rise to the rank of an officer."

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