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Sino-Indian war martyr remains consigned to flames after 48 years

The village was in oblivion, till it found mention in renowned Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam’s novel “Agojar di yahan Pariyan”.

india Updated: Jul 15, 2010 17:21 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times

The village was in oblivion, till it found mention in renowned Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam’s novel “Agojar di yahan Pariyan”. But today all roads leading to Agojar was jammed packed as hundreds of people thronged to pay last tributes to Sino-Indian war martyr - Karam Chand- whose mortal remains, recovered after 48-years in Walong were consigned to flames with full military honors.

Curiosity overran emotions in the village, where hardly anyone knew about Karam Chand, who left his home in 1959 to join the army. Inquisitive crowds made a beeline to have glimpse of army men carrying cascade packed with skeletal remains of the unsung martyr that were recovered from heap of debris, while road restoration in Walong in Arunachal Pradesh early this month.

Karam Chand, sepoy in fourth Dogras was killed in 1962, when Chinese troops launched an offensive on ill-equipped Indian troops in the North eastern- Walong. Twenty- year old Karam Chand was amongst the large causalities inflicted by Chinese but unfortunately his body was never recovered.

It was on July 1 that detachment of Border Road Task Force (BRTF) found circular identity disc and silver ring, while clearing landslides on the road connecting Walong. The local army formation swung into action to check the war records that corroborated that disc belong to sepoy Karamchand of fourth Dogra’s. The Unit of Sikh regiment dug the area and found skeletal remain of Karam Chand, along with fountain pen and dilapidated pay book.

The army contacted, decsead soldiers nephew Jaswant Singh a Naik in SSB at home.

Karam Chand’s remains was brought from Walong, last evening were kept at the headquarter of 39 mountain division in Palampur before being brought to his house. Villagers including ex-servicemen from all ages gathered at the house of Karam Chand to pay their last tributes, where his sister in- law Veena Devi cried relentlessly as her son Jaswant tried to console her. “My sister and brother in-law (Karamchand parents) till last breath waited in vein to hear something about their missing son. At least now their soul will rest in peace” said 70 year old wailing Veena. Karamchand father KS Katoch died in 1985 while his mother dued five years after.

While 95 year old Sino- Indian war veteran retired havaldar Dulo Ram of 9th dogra’s, who suffer from Alzheimer proudly told the crowds that he had motivated Karam- Chand to join the army. The contingents of army played the somber tunes, while the flower decked army truck carried the cascade to cremation ground located one kilometer away from the village.

Surprisingly women folks present on large numbers broke the century old traditions, they accompanied the cascade till cremation ground” Though traditionally women do not accompany the dead to cremation but it appears no one wanted to miss the opportunity to pay their tribute to brave soldier of our village” said Amiro Devi a Mahila Mandal Pradhan,

Amongst the those who laid wreath were two soldiers, Captain Karam Chand and Captain Sukdev Singh of four Dogras, who fought the Chinese along with Karamchand in Walong.

High ranking army officers laid wreath on the cascade wrapped in tricolor. Lieutenant. General Jasbir Singh Chief of Staff Northen Command , who is also the Colonel Commandant of Dogra regiment was the first pay tributes at cremation ground. Other who laid the wreath included GOC of 39 Mountain Division Major General Amarjit Singh , Lt Gen (retd.) S S SWangra who was former Colonel of Dogra regiment and Irrigation and Public Health minister Ravinder Singh Ravi, MLas Capt. Atma Ram and Praveen Sharma and others received the mortal remains and laid wreaths.

First Published: Jul 15, 2010 17:17 IST