Two years after a major's death, his widow approached the Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday with a prayer for getting his body from the army. The court issued a notice to the army on her petition.
Jalandhar resident Sarabjeet Kaur's husband Major GS Cheema was posted on the Siachen glacier in 2011. As per the army's version, a fire broke out at the Ashoka post around 7:30pm on July 20, 2011, due to thunderstorm and lightning. The army told Kaur that Major Cheema died on the spot due to severe burns, along with another officer, Lt Archit. Kaur claims that the medical examination report reveals that Major Cheema died at 11:30am on July 21.
She told the court that even after two years, the body had not been given to her. She prayed before the court that the mortal remains of her husband be handed over to her for performing the last rites.
As per her petition, when she was shown the mortal remains, she refused to identify the same as those of her husband because the 'kada' (iron/steel bracelet) shown to her as proof of Major Cheema's death did not belong to him.
In September 2011, the commanding officer (CO) of 13 Mahar regiment, Col SS Sandhu, was requested to provide Major Cheema's mortal remains for a second opinion in the form of a DNA test. The CO had promised to provide the same to Kaur. The DNA test was then got conducted by the army authorities, but as per Kaur's claims, it took an extraordinary amount of time to declare the report positive.
"Now if the DNA is matched, why the mortal remains of Major GS Cheema are not given to his wife for confirmation after having the second opinion…is raising doubts and confusion…," Kaur's counsel submitted in the court.
Kaur told the court that she has been repeatedly asking for the copy of the Court of Inquiry pertaining to the incident, mortal remains of her husband, the DNA test and the meteorological report dated July 20, 2011. "But the authorities are not paying any heed to the request, which has further confirmed that some big conspiracy is being maintained by the CO (commanding officer) of 13 Mahar regiment by keeping the petitioner in the dark," Kaur's counsel submitted in the court on Wednesday.
She said her husband's death could be the result of a scuffle between soldiers posted there, adding that attributing his death to lightning could be a ploy to shield someone.