"The Phone Kept
Vijaypal Singh, 23, of the
On June 12, 7.30 am, a hand
grenade tore Vijaypal's head apart while he was
returning army fire from his post 10 km from the LoC.
Main barah ki subah
phone karta raha, ghanti bajti rahi," says
his inconsolable father. "Mujhe kya pata tha
woh sari baat kar chuka tha." He's more
worried about the 18-year-old wife his son has left
behind. "Kya hoga iska?," he asks.
She hasn't eaten or drunk for three days; doctors
forcibly put her on a drip.
All the family will now
live by are Vijaypal's memories and photographs.
Which show him as a smiling lad who loved football,
books, the outdoors and the army. Neighbours,
relatives, well-wishers console Navrang, his father.
"Desh ka tha. Desh ke liye gaya."
He understands that. Yet he can't help saying:
"Desh ka naam to kara. Mujhe to rula gaya."
Vijaypal Singh, 23, a jawan
in the Jat Regiment, too had travelled a long way
from hot, dusty Dhakon Ki Dhani, a hamlet of 250
people in Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu district, to cold
Kashmir. He'd studied hard at the local primary
school, fought fond parents tooth and nail to grant
him permission to shift home base to his aunt's home
in nearby Nawalgarh to study in the higher secondary
school. How else could he hope to accomplish that
childhood dream of becoming an armyman like the
dashing uncle who was both role model and mentor?
When he qualified for the army two years ago, he
proudly walked up to his stunned parents, announcing
he was a working man now. "I'll be back,
Father," he'd assured the gentle Navrang Singh
just three months ago. "I need to tutor Ranjit
for his army entrance course. Then both us brothers
will walk together in uniform. Won't you be a proud
man then?" On June 12 at 7.30 in the morning,
Vijaypal, stationed at a post 10 km from the LoC,
was returning enemy fire when a hand grenade tore
his head apart. Also the hopes of a family that
doted on him, had come to depend on him. Inside the
house one can hear the raw animal cries of his
18-year-old widow, Sarita. "Phool si ladki
hai," whispers Navrang, "kya hoga
iska?" (She's like a delicate flower. What
will become of her?)
roared at Vijaypal's funeral
par ab baj hi chuka hai nagaada shaitan ka/Nakshe
par se naam hata do paapi Pakistan ka."
Vijaypal's Jhunjhunu district-renowned for sending
the maximum number of soldiers to the army-tempers
and morale are peaking. At Vijaypal's 250-people
village which alone accounts for 11 serving, five
retired soldiers, the retired men are raring to go.
"Take me back in the army and I'll teach those
Pakistanis a lesson they will not forget,"
storms ex-havaldar Mahavir Singh of 17 Grenadiers.
Not unlike retd capt Jagrup Singh of Johragaon who
says determinedly-"Soldiers never retire. Once
a soldier, always a soldier. I will go if the
country calls." It was Ramsagar, father of
Fatehpur resident Vijaypal (the Jhunjhunu hero's
namesake), 24, the 10th Commando Para Unit soldier
who died at Kargil this June 10, who best expressed
the prevailing mood of chin-up defiance prevailing
in the country today. Notwithstanding the grief of
his pregnant 20-year-old daughter-in-law Sushma, the
desolation of his wife, Ramsagar remains staunchly
dry-eyed. "Kyon roey jaoon main? (Why should I
keep crying?) After all, could there be a loftier
death for my son?" he says as he turns to his
sobbing younger son. "Tumhe bhi bahadur banana
hai. Bhai ki tarah desh ke liye ladna hai."
(You also have to be brave. Serve your country like