The killing of Dharmesh Sangwan (34), an army subedar from Kheri Batter village near Charkhi Dadri, 30 km from Bhiwani district headquarters, has come as a jolt to sports lovers of not only his native village but also of several nearby villages, who used to take inspiration from him.
He was lovably known as Gulia, which means power or stamina in local parlance.
Dharmesh Sangwan, father of two, was among the two Indian soldiers killed in an attack on a United Nations compound in South Sudan on Thursday night.
Recalling his last meeting with Dharmesh, his cousin Ravinder Sangwan said the family was expecting him to arrive on January 10, as he was scheduled to return to the village to prepare for inter-village kabbabi, wrestling and cricket competitions. Ravinder said Dharmesh had gone on the UN mission six months back but he came on a brief holiday three months ago and had said after taking one more promotion, he would seek retirement from the army as per norms and would either join Delhi Police or Haryana Police.
Rajender Sangwan, Dharmesh's father, who lives in his native village, said his son wanted to join the army as his two uncles served the army and his cousins were in the National Security Group. Sangwan said, "Dharmesh was passionate about wrestling and kabbadi before joining the army, but later he took to rowing and won six gold medals in Asian games for the country."
He said majority of the male members in the family were above 6 foot and Dharmesh stood 6 foot 1 inch tall.
Village Yuva club pradhan Mange Ram said, "We used to organise inter-village games at Kheri Batter according to the availability of Dharmesh in mid-February, as being a sportsman his planning was meticulous, would contribute from his pocket and ensure free and impartial judgment during the matches."
Ram said there was disbelief among the youths, who were not ready to accept his death as they said Gulia had promised to be present at the inter-village sports competitions in February.
His cousin said they are expecting the body to reach the village by Monday morning and the cremation would take place at village bus stop on panchayat road. The panchayat has decided to construct a memorial to honour Dharmesh's sacrifice.
Dharmesh is survived by his wife Batheri and two children, aged 5 and 7, who currently live in Delhi.