As India celebrates its 75th Independence Day, news of the body of an army jawan in an old bunker in Siachen, 38 years after he went missing in an avalanche while on patrol, brought forth the rigours the defence forces personnel undergo and lay down their lives.
The Sainik Group Centre in Ranikhet on Sunday identified the body as that of Chandrashekhar Harbola of 19 Kumaon Regiment.
Harbola was part of a 20-member troop that was dispatched to the world’s highest battlefield for ‘Operation Meghdoot’ to fight Pakistan in 1984. According to Army’s Northern Command, Chandershekhar was identified with the help of the identification disc bearing his Army number which was entangled along with the mortal remains. Further details were recovered from official Army records.
During patrolling, they came in the grip of an ice storm. While the bodies of 15 soldiers were recovered, those of the other five could not be found and Harbola was one among them.
His wife Shanti Devi, originally from Almora, currently lives in Saraswati Vihar Colony in Haldwani (Uttarakhand). His body is expected to reach late on Monday. Haldwani sub-collector Manish Kumar and tehsildar Sanjay Kumar, who reached Harbola’s house, said his last rites will be performed with full military honours.
Shanti Devi said at that time, they were married for nine years and that she was 28. Their elder daughter at the time was four and the younger one was one and a half years old.
Shanti Devi said Harbola had last arrived home in January 1984, during which he had promised to return soon. However, Shanti Devi said she was proud of her husband as he prioritised his service towards the country over the promises made to the family.
According to information available, Harbola, a resident of Dwarahat in Almora, had enlisted in the army in 1975. Reportedly, the body of another soldier was also found but his identity was yet to be ascertained.