Written by RITESH GOHIL | Godhra | Published:February 1, 2017 4:02 am
The residents of Orvada village in Godhra taluka were busy filling gravel in the pits on the road connecting the highway and flattening them with their spades. The 500-metre road to their village has to be readied for visitors and the vehicle carrying the body of their brother and soldier, 24-year-old Sunil Patel, expected to arrive on Wednesday. Patel died in the avalanche last week while in a camp in Gurez sector of Jammu & Kashmir where he was deputed in 51 Rashtriya Rifles.
Working with a heavy heart on the road were also the members of his family. Takhatsinh, 49, Sunil’s father who also served in the Indian Army for 28 years and retired as subedar, said they received a call from an Army official on January 26, informing him about Sunil’s death in an avalanche. “It was unbelievable at first for us. Even now, the news is yet to sink in,” says the father.
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In Orvada, the Patel family is known for its discipline. Of the 15-member family, six members have served in the Indian Army at various levels. Orvada and nearby villages observed bandh for two days to pay homage to the martyr, who was youngest of the three children. Aarathsinh, Sunil’s uncle who is in the Rapid Action Force in Mumbai, said, “Sunil was very bright in his studies. After completing his Class 12, he joined the Army training in 2011. He completed his tenure of two years in 51 Rashtriya Rifles camp a few days ago and was about to join 21 Mahar Regiment. His releasing letter was also issued, but before he shifted to the regiment, he left us.”
“Sunil was the son of the entire village. Without fail, he used to meet everyone in our village whenever he used to visit the village,” said Arjunsinh, his uncle.
Ashok Patel, another of Sunil’s uncles, said, “He was like a friend to me and when he visited in December, we spent a lot of time together. Cricket was his favourite game. He used to gather all the villagers and play cricket. He also formed the cricket team of Orvada village.” Sunil joined the Army the day after his wedding day and actually spent time with his wife only after the ten-day training, says Ashok. People from Orvada and nearby villages have been visiting Patel’s home to pay tribute to him. “People have been waiting at the helipad site since morning as everyday we get news about Sunil’s mortal remains arriving. We are also sad that people are coming from far and wide to see our son and they have to go without seeing him,” said Aarathsinh.
Sunil’s body was supposed to reach on Tuesday, but they have kept it in Vadodara and it will reach here only on Wednesday through Army’s aircrafts. “His last rights will be performed here tomorrow,” said his father. His wife, Pratibha, was inconsolable and remained indoors, refusing to see anyone. He is also survived by a three-year old daughter, Aarohi. Sunil’s eldest brother, Dilip (29), helps his father manage the farm, along with his sister, Karuna.
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