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Martyr laid to rest after 48 years
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Agojar, a small hamlet located about 13 km from Palampur, is also famous for another reason.

Eminent Punjabi writer Amrita Pritam, who stayed in the area in the 1960s, based one of her popular novels Agojar Dian Parian (The Fairies of Agojar) on the village

Agojar (Dharamsala), July 15
A small and quite hamlet in the lap of Shivalik hills near Palampur was today buzzing with activity. Army men from the Dogra Regiment were present in a large number to receive martyr Karam Chand Katoch whose mortal remains were recovered from Walong in Arunachal Pradesh after about 48 years.

The two-storey house of Karam Chand was packed with visitors jostling with each other to catch a glimpse of the wooden box in which mortal remains of the martyr were kept.

Wife of Karam Chandís brother Beena Kumari and his nephew Jaswant Singh, who is serving in Paramilitary Force (SSB), were carrying out religious ceremonies.

Since in the past 48 years most of the kin and acquaintances close to Karam Chand had passed away, there were a few to shed tears at his death.

Dulo Ram, a 95-year-old retired havaldar from the Dogra Regiment, with eclipsed memories, was the only one who remembered how he got Karam Chand recruited in the Army. He talked about valour of his regiment and how they fought the Chinese in Walong in the 1962 war.

The body was carried in a military vehicle to the cremation ground, located about 1 km from the village. Thousands of villagers, including IPH Minister Ravinder Ravi, followed the procession. Various Army officers, including Lt-Gen Jasbir Singh Col of the Dogra Regiment, Maj General Amarjit Singh, GOC, 39 Mountain Division and Lt-Gen SS Sangra (retd) laid wreathes on the coffin.

Later, while addressing the media, Lt-Gen Jasbir Singh said Karam Chand was a brave soldier who died serving the nation.

On July 1 this year, due to incessant rains, a massive landslide took place near Walong. While cleaning the earth, Border Road Task Force (BRTF) labourers found a circular identity disc and a silver ring. The identity disc was found to be that of Sepoy Karam Chand of 4 Dogra Regiment. Unit of the Sikh Regiment dug out all area and recovered a fountain pen, cover of a pay book and parts of skeleton of Karam Chand. The remains were handed over to the Dogra Regiment with full military honours that further contacted the kin of the martyr at Agojar village. The mother, father and brother of Karam Chand had passed away. He is survived by wife of his brother and her family.

Lt-Gen Jasbir Singh said since no immediate kin of Karam Chand was alive, compensation could not be given to anybody. The name of Karam Chand would, however, be entered on the list of martyrs at Walong and Dharamsala.

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