Uttarakhand jawan, missing since six months near LoC in Kashmir, declared ‘martyr’ by Army

An Indian Army (36) jawan, who went missing in January during a patrolling duty near the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, has been declared a “martyr” by the security forces after all efforts to locate him failed, his family members said on Tuesday.

The martyred jawan is identified as Havildar Rajendra Singh Negi, a Dehradun resident, who had gone missing on January 8 during a patrolling duty at Gulmarg in Kashmir Valley, when he reportedly slipped amid heavy winter snow and fell on the Pakistani side across the LoC.

Havildar Negi was attached to the Indian Army’s 11 Garhwal Rifles since 2001.

“We received the information through a letter on June 21 about the Indian Army declaring him a martyr after failing to find him,” said Rajeshwari Negi, his wife.

“But I am not ready to accept my husband is a martyr because there is no proof of his death,” she said.

“How can I accept him as a martyr? Has anybody from his unit seen him slip in heavy winter snow on Pakistani soil across the LoC? I need to see his body to come to that conclusion,” she added.

Negi’s parents live in their native village in Chamoli district, while his wife and three children live in Dehradun, where he had shifted three years ago. The Indian Army had informed his parents about the missing incident on January 9 and later his wife also came to know about it.

The wife has alleged that not “enough efforts were made to search him”.

“In January, the Indian Army officials were in constant touch with us and had assured that they would give clarity about his whereabouts by March. They have stopped communicating with us since then. They have declared him a martyr, when they failed to find him,” she added.

Earlier, Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had raised the matter with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and urged him to give necessary directions to find Havildar Negi at the earliest.

The CM had also met his family members in Dehradun and assured them all possible help.