The family of a 27-year-old Army jawan from Chhattisgarh, who died of injuries suffered in the clash with Chinese troops in Ladakh, had finalised his marriage during his last home visit and planned to solemnise it next year, his relatives said on Wednesday.
Ever since the news about the death of Sepoy Ganesh Ram Kunjam, who hailed from Gidhali village in Kanker district, trickled in, his family members are in a state of shock, but also filled with a sense of pride over his sacrifice for the country.
After completing his education till Class 12, Ganesh Kunjam had joined the Army in 2011 as he wanted to serve the nation, his paternal uncle Tiharu Ram Kunjam said.
Twenty Indian Army personnel, including a colonel, were killed in a fierce clash with the Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on Monday night.
Family members of Kunjam were busy with their routine work when on Tuesday afternoon they got the shocking news of his death.
I got a call from an Army man who introduced himself as a senior of Ganesh and told me that he was calling from Kashmir. He informed us that Kunjam has got martyred at the China border, Tiharu Kunjam said.
The person also asked me to watch news channels (which were reporting about Ladakh clash). When I switched on the news channel, it was showing names of only three martyred soldiers excluding Ganesh, he said.
The Army person told Tiharu Kunjam that his mortal remains will arrive in the village by next day.
Ganesh had come home on leave in February-March this year during which his marriage was fixed with a girl of a village in Kanker.
"Earlier, we had planned to hold the wedding this year itself, but due to some family issues and other reasons we postponed it to next year, he said.
Just last month, I got a call from him during which he said mai kahi dusri posting me ja raha hu chacha (uncle, I am being posted to some other place".
"Since then, I tried to call him many times but his phone remained switched off," an inconsolable Tiharu Kunjam said.
"I had never thought that the phone call made in May would be our last conversation. We all are in shock, Tiharu Kunjam said.
Ganesh Kunjams father, Itwaru Ram Kunjam, is a small farmer and largely dependent on agricultural activities for livelihood.
Ganesh Kunjam has two sisters, the elder one is married while the younger one works in a company in Pune (Maharashtra), Tiharu Kunjam said.
Tiharu Kunjam said, I am proud of my nephew's martyrdom but sacrifices of our soldiers should not go in vain.
Hearing the news of Ganesh Kunjam's sudden death, grief-stricken villagers visited his house to offer condolences.
Meanwhile, district administration and police officials have also reached the village,located in Charama development block, around 150km from the state capital Raipur.
Health Minister TS Singhdeo paid tribute to Ganesh Kunjam and tweeted, "My tributes to Shri Ganesh Ram Kunjam from Kanker who made the supreme sacrifice in Ladakh along with 20 of our brave soldiers defending our country. My thoughts are with their families in this moment of grief."