Hawaldar Jaipal Singh is a worried man.
His son Sachin Kumar (26) was one of the 76 jawans killed by Maoists in Dantewada on Tuesday. Only 14 months shy of retirement, Singh (46), a hawaldar in the Indian Army and a resident of Meerut, will have to start looking for another job soon.
"I will have to provide for my daughter-in-law and grandson. The pension I'll get won't be enough," he lamented.
"The Maoists have launched a war against the poor."
Hindustan Times correspondents who tracked the families of the CRPF martyrs across the country found dozens of similar tales – of retirement plans being reworked and lives being painfully reordered – in many families that, ironically, belong to the socio-economic strata the Maoists claim to represent.
"While it is true that many Maoist leaders and CRPF jawans come from the same working class or peasant background, one sees his task as a mission; the other as merely a job. But it is hard not to feel sympathy for the jawans, for they are being asked to clean up a mess created by the failures of successive governments to provide adivasis the right of equal citizenship," said historian Ramachandra Guha.
In Assam's Batadraba village, 150 km east of Guwahati, Bobby (36), widow of martyr Leelakanta Kalita (42), has hardly slept or eaten since she heard of her husband's death on Tuesday.
"He was the sole breadwinner in our family. I don't know how I'll look after my two sons, my ailing mother-in-law and my two young brothers-in-law," she said.
Union Home Secretary G K Pillai, however, said: "The families are part of the CRPF family… we will look after them."
He added that the government would pay each family Rs 38.6 lakh and that they would continue to receive the last pay drawn by the martyr.
"Besides, one eligible family member will be provided employment in CRPF on compassionate grounds," he added.
But the families aren't sure when these benefits will reach them. Till then, they will continue to live in uncertainty.
With inputs from HT bureaus across India