BANGALORE: Widows and mothers of brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country, shared heart-rending stories with Express and held their heads high with pride as they get set to receive the prestigious Gallantry Awards posthumously (Sena Medal) from the Indian Army.
These Veer Naris, as they are often addressed with honour, have come from as far as Ahmednagar in Mahrashtra to attend the Southern Command’s Investiture Ceremony being held at MEG and Centre on January 15.
He loved fish curry & rice: Sepoy Panneer Selvam Rajendran’s (26) father deserted him at the age of two after his mother’s death. Life was tough for him and his brother Shakthivel, until relatives decided to look after them in Thiruvannamalai. He was very caring and served the Army for eight years until getting shot in his head during a combing operation in Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir on June 27, 2010. Before succumbing to the bullet, he provided covering fire and ensured the terrorists didn’t have any escape route.
“He never told me anything about the operation the day before he telephoned me. He loved fish curry and rice and praised me on how well I cooked last time he was home,” says Jyothi, who lost her husband just two years after the marriage.
A sweater for mom & warm memories: Twenty-five-year-old Sepoy Nagalingam Panchavarnam’s mother was ready with a suitable girl. After all, he never went against his mother Sellamma. “He was a great kabaddi player and our house is full of his trophies. With his salary, we finished the basement of our house. He got me sarees and a nice brown sweater. He promised three of his friends from Sivaganga (Tamil Nadu) that he would get them into the Army. But..,” said Sellamma, unable to control her emotions. Nagalingam too lost his life in the 2010 operations in Kupwara.
The family performs puja every Friday in front of a box that contains Nagalingam’s gold medal, belt, shoes, cap and uniform. “I am very proud of my son, but I wish I could see him just once more,” she rued.
Brig Gurdip Singh, MEG, Commandant, told Express that it is an important Command duty to take care of the needs of Veer Naris.
“We play the connecting role between the state government and these families. Our men also take care of all their needs as a matter of pride and on priority,” Brig Singh said.