In death, soldiers provide roads, street lights to their impoverished villages | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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In death, soldiers provide roads, street lights to their impoverished villages

Hindustan Times, Jamshedpur/Kolkata/Bhopal | ByDebashish Sarkar,Tanmay Chattarjee and Ranjan
Jun 18, 2020 07:03 PM IST

Ahead of the funeral of the fallen soldiers, the local administration in some of India’s most impoverished villages were working overtime to build make-shift mud roads, first for some of these villages and also installed street lights. visiting.

Some of the soldiers who were killed in the medieval era type skirmish with Chinese troops at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh came from some of the country’s most impoverished villages without basic facilities such as piped drinking water and proper road connectivity.

Ganesh Kunjam was among the 20 soldiers killed in a clash with Chinese troops in Galwan valley of eastern Ladakh, built a concrete house for his family in a remote village in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist affected Kanker district .((Twitter))
Ganesh Kunjam was among the 20 soldiers killed in a clash with Chinese troops in Galwan valley of eastern Ladakh, built a concrete house for his family in a remote village in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist affected Kanker district .((Twitter))

Families of some of these fallen soldiers still live in thatched mud huts.

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Hours before their bodies arrived on Thursday for the last rites, the local administration worked overtime to build make-shift mud roads, first for some of these villages and also installed street lights as ministers and important people came visiting. Six of the 20 soldiers, who were killed, were tribals from the country’s most backward parts, especially in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradeshand Chhattisgarh.

“They (the local administration) overnight built a road to bring his body and installed street lights,” said Dinesh Handsa, elder brother of Ganesh Handsa, a sepoy in Bihar regiment, who was killed at the LAC. His body was brought to their village in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district on Thursday, which still does not have a proper drinking water source in the village. Paresh Munda, panchayat samiti member, said Bandhdih tollah (Handsa’s village) was one of the most backward areas of the tribal dominated district, where still women walk long distances to fetch water.

The work on the road had started under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MG-NREGA), the scheme that employs Dinesh Handsa as a daily wage earner, about a year ago. But, the work was going on at a slow pace. On Wednesday, the Baheragora block administration, under whose jurisdiction the village comes, swung into action and building remaining part of the earthen road leading to Ganesh’s house, about two km from NH-33, and installed three street lights, as political leaders, district officials and media visited Hansda house. “My brother’s death has ensured that our village now has a road,” Dinesh said.

But, his brother’s dream to build a pucca (cement) house for the family will remain unfulfilled. The family of six --- Handsa’s parents, his wife, a child and sister -- lives in a two-room thatched mud house in the outskirts of Kosaphaliya village. “When he came in February, he promised to send money to build two brick rooms for us. With him, the dream is also gone,” Handsa said.

Almost 500 kilometers away in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, soldier Rajesh Orang’s home at Belghoria village in the Muhammadbazar area comprises a Spartan brick and concrete single-storey house as well an old structure with thatched roof. “The old house needs restoration and reinforcements. I don’t know whether the family without their only earning member will be able to repair their home now,” said Ritesh Orang, a relative of the 26-year-old soldier.

He said that the only source of drinking water for close to 200 families in the village is a hand-pump and a narrow road where only two wheelers can pass connects the village to the main road about five kms away. “So, the body could be brought only to the main road, from where people carried it to the village,” Orang said. Trinamool Congress legislator and agriculture minister Asish Banerjee visited Orang’s home on Thursday morning and assured all the help to the family.

In Bengal’s Alipurduar district’s Bindigram village, home of soldier Bipul Roy, is no better. The village has electricity but no concrete road. During monsoon, people have to take a kilometer-long muddy road to reach Roy’s home, 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, brick and tin roof. “Bipul said he was saving money to build a proper brick house in five or six years,” he said.

On Thursday, another fallen soldier, sepoy Deepak Kumar’s village Farenda in Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa district will finally have a road the construction of which was announced in 2017. “Chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has directed officials to complete the road fast,” said Ashish Singh, a village resident, who was among several villagers who participated in Kumar’s last journey.

“We will name the road after Deepak,” he said. According to villagers, their major concern is lack of health facilities. “There is a health centre but no doctor. Villagers take medicines from a lone chemist in the village,” said Rakesh Singh, another villager. Deepak Kumar’s funeral will take place on Friday.

Ganesh Ram Kunjam, a sepoy from Chhattigarh’s Maoist affected Kanker district, hailed from a nondescript village Kurretola, which got a road under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) only last year, said Surya Nevendra , Kunjam’s childhood friend. Kunjam was, however, able to build a concrete house from his savings last year, the only such house in this tribal village, said his uncle Tiharu Ram Kujam.

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