Shimla: Two soldiers from Himachal Pradesh — Ankesh Bhardwaj (21) of Seu village in Bilaspur district and Rakesh Kumar of Maheshgarh (Kandral) village in Baijnath — were among the seven Army personnel martyred in an avalanche in Arunachal Pradesh, adjacent to the eastern border of the country.
Other martyrs include Havildar Jugal Kishore, Rifleman Arun Kattal, Akshay Pathania, Vishal Sharma and Gurbaz Singh. All of them were soldiers of the 19 J&K Rifle of the Indian Army.
Kangra Additional District Magistrate Rohit Rathore confirmed the development and said that the administration was in touch with the Army.
Martyr Rakesh Kumar of Baijnath has left behind his elderly parents, wife and a four-month-old son. A pall of gloom descended over the village as the news of his martyrdom reached home.
Rakesh Kumar, son of Jigri Ram, had joined the Army seven years ago. He got married a year-and-a-half ago. His father Jigri Ram too had retired from the army. Rakesh had come home on leave four months back to see his son for the first time post-birth.
“My son had promised to return soon. Who knew he will be coming draped in a Tricolour this time,” says Jigri Ram, his voice choking with grief.
Rakesh’s wife has been inconsolable. Holding a picture of her husband, whom she married about a year-and-a-half ago, in her hands, she has been cursing her fate. “What happened to the wedding vows… Our son is too young,” she sobs, intermittently invoking the Almighty as a stream of tears flows down her cheeks.
Ankesh Bhardwaj was born on September 6, 2000. He had joined the Army two years ago at the age of 19. On February 6, 2022, Ankesh along with the six other soldiers went missing in a snow storm. The people of his village and the state had been praying for the well being of all the soldiers, but the Army recovered their bodies on Tuesday evening. His father too is an ex-serviceman. Four of his brothers have also retired after serving in the BSF and the Army. Since childhood, he wanted to join the Army and used to prepare for it. Ankesh was very fond of wrestling and also won many titles. His younger brother Akash is currently studying in Class XI.