The tragic news of the death oftwo ITBP men in an air crash was wrenching enough to devastate their families but the realisation that they may not even get to see the mortal remains of the duo is unfathomable as rescuers have finally said nothing was found of them.
Search efforts, launched a fortnight ago, by mountaineers and skilled commandos have been called off in the forested valley of Gaurikund near Kedarnath where the ill-fated IAF Mi-17 went down on June 25 killing all 20 onboard, 15 of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (nine on deputation) and five from the Indian Air Force.
Senior officials of ITBP at the headquarters are now mulling options so that the families of the two troopers could be informed about the development in as sombre a way which does not add to their grief.
The two young troopers, under 30 years of age, have been identified as constables Bassavaraj Yaragatti of Gadag district in Karnataka and Ahir Rao Ganesh of Jalgaon in Maharashtra.
They were part of the squad that was in Kedarnath for almost 10 days helping stranded pilgrims board rescue choppers and providing succour to all those who were hit by the incessant rains and flash floods in the temple town and adjoining areas.
The force is looking at some procedures where a senior official and some colleagues of these two troopers could be sent to their homes carrying the belongings of the martyrs.
The force, which has had many tales of valour and sacrifice at the altar of duty in the past, probably never had to encounter such a situation where they could not send back the body of a deceased soldier to his home.
"This is very tragic for us. The team that goes to the houses of these two men would also carry a letter of condolence and praise of the valour of the martyred personnel from the force chief and unit commander," a senior force official said.
The ITBP had put on task a special team of mountain trained commandos and trekkers, led by a DIG rank officer, a day after the crash happened to trace the bodies of these two men but they could not locate any belongings or remains.
Funeral of 18 other personnel of the border guarding force who were killed in the same air accident have already been completed with full military honours.