The first time Suresh Kirange had a close encounter with Naxals was in 2003 when he was abducted by them and released after nine days in captivity.
His second encounter with them proved to be fatal.
Kirange was among the 16 police personnel killed on May 21, when Naxals ambushed the team the 40-year-old was part of. The incident occurred around 30 km from the rice farmers’ village of Sode that Kirange grew up in.
“My father wanted him to join the police force,” said the slain havaldar’s younger brother Chandrashekhar.
Class XII pass Kirange joined the police force in 1988. The eldest of seven siblings, Kirange was like a father to his siblings after they lost their father, in 2000. Today, Chandrashekhar, 35, is a father figure to Kirange’s children, Rahul (20) and Sweety (16). The Kiranges lived in Gadchiroli. Kirange, was posted to Dhanora two months ago.
“He never complained about the risky nature of his job...,” said Chandrashekhar.
Kirange’s maternal cousin Sunita Kallo, too, was killed in Thursday’s attack. The 34-year-old police constable was among the five policewomen killed.
“She tried for many jobs... but did not get selected,” said Neeta Kumre, Sunita’s younger sister. “Then she appeared for an interview for recruitment to the police force and passed.”
Sunita lived in Dhanora and supported her parents and four siblings. Her father died in December 2008. “He was very proud of her. We all were...,” said Neeta. But she is not sure if she wants anybody from the family to join the service.
“We have only one brother,” she said pointing to 25-year-old Naresh. “The government will offer a job in Sunita’s place but we don’t want him to take it up.”
Naresh, however, softly said he wants to be a policeman and do something for the country, a sentiment echoed by the Kirange family.
“We don’t have any children we could send to the police force,” said Chandrashekhar whose younger brother is also a police constable. “If we had, we would. My father always said ‘die for your country’.”