Five of the 20 Indian soldiers, including a Colonel, who died fighting Chinese troops in Ladakh, were laid to rest at their native places on Thursday amid patriotic slogans, gun salutes and barely held back tears.
The mortal remains of the other soldiers are being taken to their villages and it is expected that their last rites will be performed on Friday with full military honours.
The Indian Army personnel were killed in a fierce clash with Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night.
Several leaders across the country also paid tributes to the 20 soldiers — five from Bihar, four from Punjab, two each from Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal, and one each from Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
The mortal remains of Colonel Bikkumalla Santosh Babu were consigned to the flames with full military honours in Suryapet in Telangana, amid chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Santosh Babu amar rahe’.
Babu’s last rites were performed by his father on a piece of land owned by his family. The colonel is survived by his wife, daughter and son.
Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and state ministers K T Rama Rao, Malla Reddy and Jagdish Reddy paid their tributes,
In Tamil Nadu, Havildar K Palani was laid to rest in Kadakkalur village, as scores of people, including family members, bid him a tearful adieu. Palani”s minor son performed the last rites.
The mortal remains of Naib Subedars Mandeep Singh and Satnam Singh were consigned to the flames at Seel village in Patiala and at Bhojraj village in Gurdaspur respectively.
Their last rites were performed as villagers and youths showered flowers and waived the tricolour.
In Patiala, Mandeep Singh’s minor son lit the pyre.
The 39-year-old had joined the Army in 1997. He is survived by his mother, wife, daughter and son.
In Gurdaspur, 41-year-old Satnam Singh’s son lit the pyre. The naib subedar had joined the army in 1995 and is survived by his father, mother, wife, daughter and son.
The bodies of the other two soldiers from Punjab killed in Ladakh — Sepoy Gurbinder Singh of Sangrur and Sepoy Gurtej Singh of Mansa – are expected to be brought to the state on Friday.
Punjab minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and Shiromani Dal Akali (SAD) MLA Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra paid their respects.
Of the five soldiers from Bihar who died in the Galwan Valley clashes, Havildar Sunil Kumar was laid to rest in Patna. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
The pyre was lit by his 10-year-old son, amid chanting of patriotic slogans and waiving of tricolours.
The bodies of the other soldiers from Bihar – Sepoys Chandan Kumar (Bhojpur), Kundan Kumar (Saharsa), Aman Kumar (Samastipur) and Jai Kishor Singh (Vaishali) – have been handed over to their families, but the last rites are expected to be held on Friday.
In Odisha, the bodies of Sepoy Chandrakanta Pradhan (28) of Biarpanga village in Kandhamal district and Naib Subedar Nanduram Soren (43) of Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj arrived in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. The bodies are being taken to their native places, officials said.
The last rites of Naik Deepak Singh, a 30-year-old from Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa district, is expected to be held on Friday and that of Sepoy Ganesh Ram Kunjam of Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district late on Thursday night, according to their family members.
The body of Sepoy Ganesh Hansda, who had joined the Army in 2018 at the age of 21 years, arrived in Jharkhand on Thursday, while the body of Kundan Kumar Ojha, a resident of Sahibganj in the state, will arrive on Saturday. Family members of both sepoys will perform their last rites on Saturday.
Sepoy Ankush Thakur’s body will be flown to Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh via Chandigarh on Friday morning and the cremation will take place on the same day, an official said.
In West Bengal, the bodies of Havildar Bipul Roy of Bindipara village in Alipurduar district and Sepoy Rajesh Orang of Belgoria village in Birbhum district will be handed over to family members on Friday.
The clash in the Galwan Valley was the biggest confrontation between the two militaries after their 1967 clashes in Nathu La when India lost around 80 soldierswhile over 300 Chinese army personnel were killed.