For 11-year-old Archi it was any other day till the bad news in the afternoon left her depressed. After taking her final exams, the Class-6 student returned home to the news that her father would never return home.
In the courtyard of the house sat septuagenarian Harnam Singh, a retired army captain, along with his two younger sons, taken aback by the news they had just received: his son Lakhbir Singh had been martyred in the Maoist attack in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday.
“He would have easily settled in the village after retiring from 10 Para Command three years ago. But the zeal to serve the country was so strong in him that he opted to join the Central Reserve Police Force instead,” said Harnam.
The family had no information on Wednesday afternoon that their son was also among the martyrs.
“We heard of the blast on Tuesday. There was no information about the martyrs except a few names; it was shocking when I heard the bad news hours ago,” said Rajesh Sharma from the village. Lakhbir had met Rajesh while going back to his battalion last time saying he would complete the construction of his house on his next visit. Rajesh remembered Lakhbir as a lively and social person.
Villagers of all ages gathered at the house of the martyred soldier, where his wife Laita and mother Sarla were inconsolable. Controlling his emotions, Harnam said, “He has laid down his life for the country. We are proud of him but it has created a vacuum in our lives. We are a joint family but seeing his children grow up without their father will be painful.”
Lakbhir’s younger brother Kuldeep Singh, who first got the information from the local police station, tried to console his nephew Robin -- a class-12 student who suddenly went quiet. “They are our children. We will look after them but life without their father would be hard for them,” said Kuldeep.
Lakhbir’s mortal remains will be consigned to the flames on Thursday morning.