Ursula Bhengra, 60, wife of a missing Army jawan, has been selling Chana (gram) in a Jharkhand village in Khunti district to take care of her three daughters’ at Dodma village in Torpa block ever since her husband went missing from Kargil, 25 years ago. Her tears have dried up and the hope of seeing him is gone too.
Ursula’s husband-Antony Bhengra- was posted with the Rocket Regiment in Kargil as a gunner in the 1980’s and went missing on May 20, 1991 from Kathua area of Jammu & Kashmir.
Over two decades have passed but neither the Indian Army nor his family members have ben able to trace him and she does not know whether he is alive, or not. She is still running from pillar to post to trace her husband and confirm whether she would get her due benefits as a ‘war widow’. “I wrote several letters to his regiment but the reply was that it would inform me when he returns,” she said.
She also wrote to the Prime Minister and President of India in 2015 and 2016 seeking help. That did not help either.
Antony had last visited home in May 1991 to see his younger daughter Neelam when she was just six years old. “He returned to his workplace and never returned. I got a letter from the regiment in the same year that mentioned he did not rejoin after leave,” she said.
She said she had no idea at that time how to approach the Army so she did not approach anyone for almost a decade. Later on advice she entered a missing complaint with the Army and police.”
Torpa police station in-charge Amit Kumar Tiwart said, since her husband went missing from Kargil, the police had no role to play. His regiment was informed that the police could not trace him. A jawan did visit her to take her signature on a missing certificate from the local police station in October last year and told her she would get pension soon. Nothing happened.
Ursula had a job as Aanganwadi Sevika in 1985 in Khunti district but the remuneration was not enough. “When my husband went missing, I used to get `80 per month as sevika. I had no other source of income. Then, I decided to sell Chana.”
Later, her remuneration was revised to `3,000 per month.