They wanted to listen to their children’s voices one last time and give their wives the courage to carry on. They wanted to apologise to their parents for deserting them.
The CRPF soldiers wounded in the jungles of Dantewada were using their mobile phones for that final, desperate call. Life was slipping out of their grasp. Still, the jawans wanted to assure their loved ones that everything would be alright.
For some, the bell kept ringing. For others, the phone was away from their families working in the fields. Here are a few stories of those final moments.
Fee worries: Indravati, 32, of Bihar’s Narhawan Village in Gopalganj district, was deep in sleep when her mobile began to ring at 2.39 am. At 5.40, when she woke up, she saw two missed calls from her husband Surendra Rai and called him. In the middle of combat, Rai, 42, asked her to hang up and asked their son Amresh to call him instead. When Amresh did that, Rai told him to put the phone down immediately. This was their final conversation.
Before this, when Rai had called on April 5, he had asked how much money had Indravati drawn from the bank and whether the children’s school fee had been deposited.
Hello…and silence: The phone rang at 7.45 am on April 6 at Nagra Village in Bihar’s Saran District. “Make me speak to your sister. I’ve been shot,” said the voice. At that time, Baby, wife of slain CRPF jawan Motiram, was busy cutting the wheat crop.
Her younger sister Seema received the call and sent the mobile to the field. It rang thrice, but each time the call was disconnected after saying hello.
Lifetime regret: Lalit Kumar, 28, a native of Maheshwari Village in Uttarakhand’s Roorki district, called home at 6.45 a.m. The phone just kept ringing. In his final moments, Kumar wanted to speak to his family. Now they’ll live with the regret of not taking that call.
Lost in dialect: When family members of Birjanand, 33, heard about the massacre, they tried calling him on his mobile. A man picked up the phone but the natives of Lauka Village in Uttarakand’s Sitarganj district couldn’t follow his Chhattisgarhi dialect.
And the mobile went off: Badly wounded, Ali Hassan, 34, of Khatola Village in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, called his wife Tasmina.
“Take care of the daughters. I might not survive as I have two bullets in my body,” he said. And then the phone was disconnected, forever.