Khairair (UP): Martyred soldier Hemraj's wife and mother today refused to end their six-day-old fast demanding an assurance from the Army Chief that his severed head will be brought back from Pakistan even as politicians made a beeline to the village.
Hemraj's wife Dharamvati, mother Meena Devi and cousin Narender were on fast and had refused to take "even liquid" as they remained steadfast on their demand for getting back Hemraj's head, which was severed by Pakistani troops who raided Indian territory in Poonch sector on January 8.
"The family is even refusing to take liquid. But we are maintaining their vital parameters. Dharamvati is being given intravenous fluid," Dr Harshwardhan, Medical Officer of Chatha Public Health Centre, said.
Narendra told PTI, "we are not going to call off our fast if a leader comes here and request us to do so. We want the Army chief to come here and assure us that he will get Hemraj's head back from Pakistan. Only then we will call off our fast."
The family's demands came as Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh addressed a press conference in New Delhi and said the beheading of two Indian soldiers in Pakistan Army attack was unacceptable.
The General said the Army understands the grief of the families of the brave soldiers who laid down their lives as they are "our families too" and they will make all attempts to ease the pain and suffering of Lance Naik Hemraj's family.
UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav met the family and promised to fulfill their demands. "We have already given Rs 25 lakh... Money is not a big thing but to support and respect the family is the duty of the government".
He said the jawan's mother and wife were weak and in grief. "So this is the time to stand by the family," he said.
BJP president Gadkari and senior leaders Swaraj and Rajnath Singh reached Hemraj's residence, 160 kms from Delhi and 50 km from Mathura, this afternoon while Congress MP Avtar Singh Badana met the family earlier in the day.
But it did little to console the family. Narender questioned the visit of politicians at the house days after the incident alleging that they were trying to capitalise on the issue.
"Politicians are visiting us for their own interests. If they wanted to pay respect, they should have come on the day when he was cremated. Even they could have visited us two days later but what is the point in coming now on the sixth day," Narender said.
Kalyan Singh, Hemraj's paternal uncle, claimed that the family did not demand that the Army Chief visit them to end the fast. "The wife and mother are in grief and they are unable to have any food," he said.
After meeting the family, Gadkari said the incident has left a bad precedent for the whole country. "Whatever the Pakistani troops have done should be condemned at the international level," he said.
At the village, a large number of police personnel were deployed and almost the whole village had assembled near the house.
Villagers, who sat at the 'choupal' (common meeting place) in solidarity with the family, and relatives said Hemraj was very keen that his children -- Nirmala (7), Prince (5) and Kallu (3) -- get good education and three months ago had shifted to a house in Chatha, which is a little far away, because it had a school.
"He had made a house in Chatha because it had a school. His two children are already in school and for them, he decided to get a house there," Draupal Singh, uncle of Hemraj's wife, said.
Hemraj was recruited in the Army in 2001 and married to Dharamvati three years later. According to relatives, he had booked tickets to come to his village on February seven.
Pakistan Army regulars had infiltrated inside Indian territory in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir and killed and mutilated the bodies of Lance Naiks Sudhakar Singh and Hemraj.