Remains of soldier who went missing in ’84 at Siachen found

Updated on Aug 15, 2022 01:28 PM IST

As India readies to celebrate its 76th Independence Day, a 63-year-old woman in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani woke up on Sunday to the news that the remains of her husband, a soldier martyred at the world’s highest battlefield Siachen in 1984, have finally been found.

 (HT Photos) PREMIUM
(HT Photos)
ByAnkur Sharma, Haldwani

As India readies to celebrate its 76th Independence Day, a 63-year-old woman in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani woke up on Sunday to the news that the remains of her husband, a soldier martyred at the world’s highest battlefield Siachen in 1984, have finally been found.

Shanti Devi was only 25 years old when her husband Lance Naik Chandrashekhar Harbola, from 19 Kumaon Regiment, went missing at Siachen 38 years ago.

“When I was told on Saturday that his body was found in an old bunker at Siachen glacier, my mind went blank and I could barely say anything. It has been nearly 38 years. And slowly all wounds from the past opened up again… We got married in 1975. When he went missing nine years later, my two daughters were very young — one was four years old and the other was barely a year and a half,” Devi says.

She never married again.

“We performed his tarpan (offering water to the dead) and I dedicated my life to raising my children. Despite many hurdles, I raised my children as a proud mother and the wife of a martyr,” she adds. “I’ve been told his body will arrive on Tuesday. Officials, people from our village and nearby areas are coming here. He is our hero. As the country is remembering the sacrifices of our soldiers, I am sure his sacrifice will also be remembered.”

Kavita, who was eight when her father died, is now 42.

She said she did not know whether to be happy or sad. “He has been gone for so long. After all this time, we never thought his body would ever be found. We were told that a metallic disc with the army number helped in identifying his remains. But at least we will get solace now and closure of sorts after conducting his last rites.”

Lance Naik Harbola hailed from Binta village in Ranikhet area of Uttarakhand’s Almora district. In 1971, he joined the Kumaon Regiment. In 1975, he got married to Shanti Devi and they had two daughters — Kavita and Babita. Shanti Devi now lives with Kavita at Saraswati Vihar in Haldwani area of Nainital district.

Harbola, who joined the Kumaon Regiment in 1971, was part of a five-member patrol when an avalanche hit it. Neither his nor the bodies of the other four could be found. Their regiment was part of India’s pre-emptive action to stop Pakistan from capturing strategic areas in the glacier in April 1984 as part of Operation Meghdoot.

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