Family of Soldier Who Died in Ladakh Clash Inconsolable, Wants India to Give Befitting Reply to China

Sujit Nath

Kolkata: The last time Rajesh Oraon, 26, went home to his village in West Bengal’s Birbhum district in October 2019, he casually told his mother Mamata that one day he would make his entire village proud.

Her mother was busy making sora pitha (rice cakes) in a chulha (earthen stove) in their small house located in Belgharia village in Mohammad Bazar, and Rajesh, her only son, had told her he gets immense satisfaction in serving his nation.

Rajesh, who joined the Army in 2015 died of injuries suffered in a hand to hand combat with the Chinese army at Galwan Valley in Ladakh region.

On October 25 last year, after agreeing to marry a local girl, Rajesh left his village as his leave was over but little did he know that it would be his last meeting with his family members.

On Tuesday evening, his family received a phone call from Ladhak where the caller told them their son been martyred while serving the nation at the Indo-China border in Ladakh.

Rajesh was among those 20 Indian soldiers, including the Commanding Officer of a battalion at Galwan Valley, who were killed by the Chinese soldiers in a violent clash during disengagement on June 15.

Indian and Chinese troops have disengaged at the Galwan area where they had earlier clashed on the intervening night of June 15 and 16. At least 17 Indian soldiers who were critically injured in the line of duty at the stand-off location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain have succumbed to their injuries, taking the total toll to 20, Indian Army said in a statement.

As the news of Rajesh’s martyrdom spread, a large number of people gathered at Rajesh’s village —about 194 kilometers from Kolkata — to express their condolences.

While his mother Mamata was inconsolable, his sisters Rajasree and Sakuntala had traumatic fits and were advised to take rest.

His father Subhash is a farmer and suffers from serious health complications. “He sacrificed his life for India. What else could be more respectable than this? He makes us and the entire village proud,” he said.

A pall of gloom descended over the entire locality as his inconsolable mother asked, “Baba (Rajesh) why you left us at this young age? Someone please call him...he must be having pain...ask him I want to speak to him...Why you people are not calling him...he needs me,”

“Who will I now call and say ‘take care of yourself’? Bhalo Thakis Baba (take care Baba wherever you are)...Ma Ke Mone Koris (don’t forget your mother).”

His family members said Rajesh was supposed to visit his village in April but could not make it due to the lockdown.

“During his next official leave, he was supposed to finalise his marriage with a local girl. He liked that girl and asked her to wait for marriage but God had some other plans. We are sad but equally proud of him. We want that India should give a befitting reply to China,” said Abhijit Oraon, Rajesh’s cousin.