High drama preceded the cremation of central reserve police force (CRPF) jawan Abhay Mishra,near his native Tulsi Harigaon village in Jagdishpur (Bhojpur district) of south central Bihar, on Wednesday.
The funeral pyre of Mishra, one of the 25 troopers who fell during a Maoist attack at Sukma (Chattisgarh), on Monday, was lit by his two-year-old son Ayush, in the presence of his tearful relatives and co-villagers, hailing his martyrdom.
The funeral took place at a hurried levelled tract of land next to the Ara-Buxar highway, lying close to Abhay;s village, located about 20 km west of the Bhojpur district headquarters town of Ara,
Before the cremation got underway, the slain CRPF jawan’s widow, Rani, inconsolable in her grief and facing a bleak future, with the sole bread-winner of the family gone, was in for another shock.
The district authorities, she found, had roped in local JD (U) MLA Ram Vishun Singh Lohiya (Jagdishpur), to hand over to her as ex gratia a cheque of Rs 5 lakh. She refused, saying the amount offered on behalf of the state government was “too meagre”.
The widow pointed out that some other state governments had offered Rs 11 lakh, to other CRPF personnel killed along with her husband, at Sukma.
Caught in a bind, the district authorities then took the help of a local social activist to convince her to accept the cheque, on the promise that her demand for a larger amount would be forwarded to the state government by the district authorities.
But this was not the only grouse to be be aired by Abhay Mishra’s family.
Mishra’s widow also wondered aloud why her husband was not posted elsewhere when he had completed three years in Chattisgarh, a hotbed of Maoist violence. “My husband had requested a transfer but no cognisance was taken of that. Besides, though he was already injured, he was not given a bullet proof jacket”, she said.
Other family members said Abhay had suffered a bullet injury in his thigh about a month ago but wasn’t granted leave to come home.
Mishra’s death, his younger brother said, also meant severe financial hardship for the family. “My father Gajendra Mishra is a marginal farmer and barely makes ends meet,” said Amit.
Jagdishpur SDO Balmukund Prasad said the body of the martyr reached Ara at 11 pm on Tuesday. But his family said they could not perform Abhay’s funeral at night. As such, the body was kept at the Ara police lines and sent to Tulsi Harigaon at 5 am on Wednesday.
CRPF personnel and the local police gave a guard of honour to Abhay, before his cremation.
CRPF DIG H S Mal, Jagdishpur MLA Ram Vishun Singh Lohiya, former Sandesh MLA Sanjay Singh Tiger, former MLA Bhai Dinesh, Bhojpur SP Kshatranil Singh, DDC Inayat Khan and the Jagdishpur SDO were among those present on the occasion.
No Bihar minister attended the funeral.
“Neither the CM nor any representative of state government was present when the bodies of the martyrs, a total of six from Bihar, reached the Patna airport”, said Tiger, a BJP state spokesman.