Families pay final tributes as bravehearts laid to rest | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Families pay final tributes as bravehearts laid to rest

ByDebashish Sarkar/Tanmay Chattarjee and Ranjan
Jun 19, 2020 12:22 AM IST

Jamshedpur/Kolkata/Bhopal: When Ganesh Handsa, 22, returned home in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum in February for a holiday, he promised to help his family build a two-brick room house for them. Handsa, who was among the soldiers killed in the violent face-off with Chinese troops in Ladakh on Monday, was the sole bread-earner for the improvised family that lives in a two-room thatched mud house.

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Six of the 20 soldiers killed in Ladakh were from the country’s most backward and poorest parts in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The villages of some of them do not have even basic facilities like piped drinking water and proper connectivity.

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Ganesh Handsa’s brother, Dinesh, said the local administration overnight built a road to bring his body and installed street lights in their Bandhdih Tollah village, which does not have a proper drinking water source.

Paresh Munda, a village council member, said Bandhdih Tollah is one of the most backward areas of the tribal-dominated district, where women still walk long distances to fetch water.

Villagers said the road construction was going at a slow pace after starting under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which employs Dinesh, about a year ago. They added the authorities on Wednesday swung into action and built the remaining part of the road to Ganesh Handsa’s house, which is about two km from the closest national highway. Three street lights were also installed as political leaders, district officials and journalists visited the Hansdas.

“My brother’s death has ensured that our village now has a road,” Dinesh Handsa said. But he added Ganesh Handsa’s dream of building a concrete house for the family of six remains unfulfilled. “When he came in February, he promised to send money to build two brick rooms for us. With him, the dream is also gone,” Dinesh Handsa said.

Around 500 km away, the family of another soldier, Rajesh Orang, 26, killed in Ladakh, lives in a single-storey house, a part of which is old with a thatched roof in West Bengal’s Birbhum district. “The old house needs restoration. I do not know whether the family without their only earning member will be able to repair their home now,” said Ritesh Orang, a relative of the soldier.

He said that the only source of drinking water for close to 200 families in the village is a handpump and a narrow lane connects it to the main road about five km away. “So, the body could be brought only to the main road from where people carried it to the village,” Orang said.

Ruling Trinamool Congress legislator and agriculture minister Asish Banerjee visited Orang’s home on Thursday morning and assured all the help to the family.

The village of Bipul Roy, 26, another soldier killed in Ladakh, in West Bengal’s Alipurduar district has electricity but no concrete road. During the monsoon, people have to take a kilometer-long muddy road to reach the village, said Taranikanta Das, Roy’s brother-in-law. He said Roy’s father is a farmer and the family lives in a house made of mud, bricks and tin. “Bipul said he was saving money to build a proper brick house for five or six years,” he said.

The construction of a road to sepoy Deepak Kumar’s Farenda village in Madhya Pradesh was announced in 2017. “Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has directed officials to complete the road fast,” said Ashish Singh, a resident of the village, who attended Kumar’s funeral. “We will name the road after Deepak,” he said.

Residents said their major concern is the lack of health facilities. “There is a health centre but no doctor. Villagers take medicines from the lone chemist in the village,” said Rakesh Singh, another villager.

Kurretola in Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district, where sepoy Ganesh Ram Kunjam was from, got a road under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana last year. His friend Surya Nevendra said Kunjam was able to build a concrete house last year. It is the only such house in this tribal village, said his uncle Tiharu Ram.

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