Chennai: A year after the Galwan Valley skirmish, Vanathi Devi, widow of Havildar K Palani, still remembers her beloved was not able to keep his promise of returning home. However, his final moments and heroic sacrifice in the fight with Chinese troops makes Vanathi Devi feel proud of him.
Not only Palani’s sacrifice in the mountainous Galwan Valley, but also those of others besides the lives of soldiers guarding the frontiers in high altitude region speak volumes of the untold sacrifices of the country’s army men, she said.
“Even after a year, my life continues to be gloomy due to his demise. It is a personal loss for me and my two children. But, his sacrifice for India makes me feel proud of him,” Vanathi Devi said Tuesday.
Her voice quivering, Vanathi said she still remembers the last conversation she had with Palani. “He told me his (retirement) papers were through and he would return home in a week’s time. He asked me to go ahead with the house warming ceremony June 3 which I did,” she informed.
Both hoped that they would reunite on their wedding day June 6.But fate willed otherwise. She was informed June 15 about Palani’s sacrifice at Galwan Valley. “Our wish that we would begin life anew in our newly-constructed home never materialised,” Vanathi lamented.
Vanathi recalled the arduous life of a soldier guarding India’s frontiers. “Most of us think a soldier’s life is laid-back. But the lurking threat from enemies apart, there is then the health problems while serving at high altitudes (where the body is starved of oxygen),” she stated.
People realised the need for oxygen only during the second Coronavirus wave, claimed Vanathi who herself recovered from Covid-19 recently. She contracted the infection after she performed election duty for the Tamil Nadu Assembly polls in April this year. However, she has recovered and resumed work.
Havildar (Gunner) K Palani was conferred the Vir Chakra posthumously. He was a native of Kadukalur village in Ramanathapuram district. His remains were laid to rest with State honours at the village June 18, 2020. The Tamil Nadu government provided a relief of Rs 20 lakh and a junior assistant job in the district supply office at Ramanathapuram to Vanathi. She had aso received Rs 20 lakh from the Governor as relief.
The ‘Krishnan International School’ at Devipattinam, where her son is studying in seventh standard and daughter in fourth, has assured the family that it would provide free education.
Twenty Indian soldiers were killed June 15 last year in the Galwan Valley in fierce hand-to-hand combat with Chinese troops. The clash triggered a large deployment of troops and heavy weaponry by both armies at the friction points in eastern Ladakh.