The fate of an Indian soldier who inadvertently crossed the Line of Control on the day of the surgical strikes remains uncertain, with efforts to bring him back proving fruitless so far. Chandu Chavan, who was serving with 37 Rashtriya Rifles, has been in the custody of the Pakistani army for more than three weeks.
Army sources said the directorate general of military operations had taken up the issue twice with the Pakistani army but had made no headway in securing Chavan’s release.
“We will continue to make efforts to get him back. It’s not uncommon for soldiers from either side to stray across the LoC and there’s a mechanism to send them back,” said a senior officer.
The 22-year-old soldier’s family has been under tremendous stress since the news broke on September 29 — his grandmother died of a heart attack two days later. His brother Bhushan, who is also in the army and posted in Jamnagar, has taken leave to be with the family that lives in a village near Dhule.
Chavan’s sister-in-law Sheetal said that the government had informed the family that it was making all-out efforts for the soldier’s return. “We have been told that process was going on, which takes minimum 20 days,” she told HT. However, that time has already passed.
“We received two shocks: the incident involving Chandu and then the death of grandmother. Lot of people visited us to express their sympathies but our lives have not been normal,” she said.
Chavan’s parents died when he was two years old and grandmother Lilabai took care of her two grandsons.
“My husband is disturbed. He is not even taking his meals,” Sheetal said.
Top ministers have been in touch with the family and assured that the government was trying its best to bring him back. However, with every passing day, anxiety levels are only increasing.
Chavan had plans to visit his village, Borivihir, around Diwali. Sheetal said, “We had big plans for him and would have finalised his marriage during Diwali.”
Several of Chavan’s relatives are serving the army and the family is proud of its military tradition.
Family members described him as a soft spoken and well-mannered person. “He is a family person. Both brothers are attached to each other as they lost their parents during childhood,” said a family member.