In the backwaters of Mainpuri this family is thanking God for the chance it has to cremate Hawaldar Gaya Prasad after 18 years.
Two days ago body of Hawaldar Prasad was located buried in a glacier of treacherous Siachen 18 years after he disappeared and presumed dead since searches failed to throw up any result.
An aircraft of Indian Air Force (IAF) made the discovery in course of surveillance mission. Body was taken out and flown to the general hospital in Leh, Laddakh where the autopsy was performed on Tuesday.
A former colleague Badshah Singh broke the news to his brother Shyam and son Sunil on Sunday in Kuraidaya village of Kishmi, it produced mixed emotions. Both cried for a while and ran to the temple before they informed the family members.
"All these years we knew he won't come back; deep down inside we all wanted that we get his body and give him proper cremation," said Shyam Singh, his brother.
"My only desire was to see his body before I die. My prayers are answered I can go in peace now," says his father Gajadhar Singh who is 90-year old.
Singh was posted with Prasad when he was killed participating in Operation Meghdoot on December 9, 1996. The snow scooter Prasad drove skidded off the cliff in course of a patrol.
When the IAF found the body, Singh was the first to get the information from his former comrades. Now retired for 10 years, Singh came all the way from Sitapur in Etawah as the army followed a certain protocol before contacting the family.
Army, however, did confirm the body was of Gaya Prasad who was with 15 Rajputana Rifles. It was identified by the tag bearing his number 2980287-W stitched to the uniform.
"The body is at the general hospital in Leh. It is that of Hawaldar Gaya Prasad," said an Army spokesman. "There are certain processes going on. At this point we can't confirm if the jawan was from Mainpuri." But the family says the tag number was of Hawaldar Gaya Prasad.
While the army is yet to officially communicate to the family, Prasad's son Satish Singh has already left for Laddakh by road. Badshah Singh was with Satish who spoke to the family Monday night from Chandigarh.
"He told me he will be flown to Laddakh in a chopper. They were waiting at Chandigarh for the army liaison," said Shyam Singh. "He didn't tell me if he will be taken from Chandigarh or he may have to travel further up."