Naik Kundalik Mane, a jawan of the 14 Maratha Light Infantry (MLI), was killed in an ambush on Tuesday. Burying differences they may have, the village united in protecting the family of the slain soldier. While politicians were kept at bay and not allowed to meet the family, Mane's wife and immediate family members were formally told about his death only at about 9.45 pm prior to which they were informed that he is injured.
Villagers voluntarily suspended cable television transmission in the area around the family's house to prevent the family from seeing the footage of the dead soldier. "The footage on national TV might just break them (the family) down," said Pradip Patil, sarpanch.
While reporters were barred from interacting with immediate family members, villagers hinted that his wife may have got a clue that her husband is no more, given the crowd that thronged the village after the first news on TV channels. "On Tuesday evening, one of Mane's friends informed his brother about the soldier's death and since then, the brother and his wife (Mane's sister-in-law) have been suffering from high blood pressure," said Dr P S Pujari who ensured two nurses were deputed to take care of the family members.
Mane, 36, who joined the Indian Army in 1998, was slated to retire by May 2014. He joined the MLI regiment and was trained in Belgaum.
"He had plans to buy a bus and ferry children to Kolhapur so that they can get better education in the bigger city," said Patil who has known the family since childhood. "Poor economic background compelled him to join the Army and he was in fact the first from the family to join Army," he added. Mane is survived by wife Rajashri and two children, Amol and Arti, parents and brother.
At about 9.30 pm, even as villagers were contemplating whether his wife be informed about her husband's death, his mortal remains were brought to Pune by a special aircraft that landed at IAF station Lohegaon where a "wreath was laid to honour the martyr." His remains were brought to the village by road where he would be cremated with military honours on Thursday.