The widow of a Param Vir Chakra recipient refused to accept an urn purportedly containing her husband’s remains, forcing Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das to turn back from her doorstep on Thursday.
More than four decades after Lance Naik Albert Ekka was killed in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Das went to his family in the state’s Gumla district with an urn containing soil from the soldier’s grave.
But Balamdina Ekka turned away the chief minister, saying state honours deserved by a winner of the Param Vir Chakra, the nation’s highest military decoration, were not accorded to the urn.
Das then handed over the remnants to area deputy commissioner Dinesh Chandra Mishra.
The chief minister also directed officials to set up a 10-man committee to bring the urn afresh from Agartala with due state honours.
Ekka died at Tripura’s Gangasagar during the war and was laid to rest at Dhulki, 15 kilometres from state capital Agartala.
The soldier, who was with the 14 Guards, was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his bravery in the Battle of Gangasagar with then Eastern Pakistan.
“How can we believe the remains are of my father?” asked Vincent Ekka, the martyr’s son. “Why were we not taken to Agartala where the body of my father was laid to rest?”
The urn was handed over to Das after it was brought to Ranchi from Agartala on November 30. The chief minister displayed a keen interest in delivering it to Ekka’s family and asked the district administration to make elaborate arrangements for this.
Das and governor Draupadi Murmu garlanded the martyr’s statue at the Albert Ekka Chowk in Ranchi on Thursday.
“He was a true patriot and his life is an inspiration for all of us, especially the youth who should take inspiration from his sacrifice and we should remember that it is the country which comes first,” the CM said on the occasion.
At around 1.30pm, the chief minister’s entourage reached Jari village in Gumla along with social welfare minister Louis Marandi, state legislators Gangotri Kujur and Shiv Shankar Oraon as well as tribal advisory committee (TAC) member Ratan Tirkey.
Tirkey said Das tried to convince Balamdina and her son, but could not persuade them to change their mind.
(With IANS inputs)