U’khand: Deceased soldier’s wife hopes his Siachen martyrdom ‘will be remembered’
Lance Naik Chandrashekhar Herbola was martyred at the world’s highest battlefield Siachen in 1984 during Operation Meghdoot
Sixty-three-year-old Shanti Devi from Uttarakhand’s Haldwani was understandably numb when Army officials from the Kumaon Regiment informed her that skeletal remains of her husband – Lance Naik Chandrashekhar Harbola, who was martyred at the world’s highest battlefield Siachen in 1984 – were found after 38 years.
“When I was told on Sunday that his body was found on Saturday in an old bunker at the Siachen glacier, my mind went blank and I could barely say anything. It has been nearly 38 years. And slowly all the past wounds opened up again… I was 25 years old when he went missing. We got married in 1975. When he went missing nine years later, my two daughters were very young – one was a four-year-old and the other a year-and-a-half,” Shanti Devi said.
Stating that she never remarried, Devi said, “We performed his tarpan (offering water to the dead) and I dedicated my life to raising my children. I raised my children as a proud mother and a brave wife of a martyr despite several hurdles and challenges.”
“First, I was told that his body will arrive on Tuesday, but now I have been informed that it will arrive on Wednesday. Officials, people from our village and nearby areas are coming here. He is our hero. I am sure his sacrifice will also be remembered by all,” she said.
Their elder daughter Kavita, now 42, is unsure whether to be happy or sad. “When we got the news, we didn’t know whether we should be happy or sad. He has been long gone. We never expected he would be found after such a long time. We were told that a metallic disc with the army number helped in identifying his remains. But at least we will get a closure of sorts after conducting his last rites as per the Hindu tradition. Papa has come home but I wish he was alive and could celebrate Independence Day with all of us.”
Lance Naik Chandrashekhar Herbola originally hailed from Binta village in Ranikhet area of Almora district. He joined the Kumaon Regiment in 1971, and got married to Shanti Devi, a resident of Hawalbagh area in Almora, four years later. They have another daughter named Babita, but Devi now lives with her elder child at Saraswati Vihar in Haldwani area of Nainital district.
In 1984, during Operation Meghdoot at the Siachen glacier, the Kumaon Regiment was part of India’s preemptive steps to stop Pakistan from capturing strategic areas in the region.
The team, which included Herbola, was patrolling the area when it was caught in an avalanche. Like four other members of his team, his body too was not found, until now.