What should have been a day of celebration turned out to be one of profound grief for the family of Naik Sandip Jadhav. Jadhav, one of the two soldiers killed in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, was cremated today on his son's first birthday. But there were no smiles on Shivam's landmark day, only eyes misting over with tears as his father's mortal remains were consigned to flames with full military honours at Kelgaon in central Maharashtra's Sillod taluka, about 230 km from here.
The 34-year-old jawan, who belonged to the 15 Maratha Light Infantry, was killed in an attack by a team of Pakistani Special Forces, which had sneaked 600 metres across the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector two days ago. Shravan Mane, a 24-year-old sepoy from Kolhapur, was also killed in the attack.
Thousands of people from all walks of life took part in Jadhav's final journey and bid him a tearful adieu. People converged at his home in large numbers to mourn the loss of the braveheart and chanted slogans like 'Sandip Jadhav amar rahe' and 'Jab tak suraj chand rahega, Sandip tera naam rahega' as his body was taken out of the house for the last time.
A pall of gloom descended over Sillod as news of Jadhav's death broke.
Jadhav had promised his family that he would be home for Shivam's first birthday celebrations, but he returned in a coffin, sending his family and friends into shock. Besides one-year-old Shivam, Jadhav is survived by his wife, a three-year-old daughter, parents and a brother.
Congress MLA from Sillod, Abdul Sattar, Maharashtra assembly speaker Haribhau Bagade and officials of the district administration were present at the cremation site.