Bengal bids farewell to its soldiers martyred in Ladakh; Mamata backs Centre

Published : June 19, 2020 22:44 IST

At Belgoria village in Bengal’s Birbhum district, Army personnel escort the vehicle carrying the mortal remains of Rajesh Orang during his last rites, on June 19. Photo: PTI

Two soldiers from West Bengal who were killed in action in the India-China face-off in Ladakh, were given a hero’s farewell on June 19 in their respective home districts. The body of sepoy Rajesh Orang of Mohammed Bazaar, Birbhum, arrived on the night of June 18, while the casket of Bipul Roy arrived at Alipurduar, north Bengal, in the evening of June 19.

On the morning of June 19, hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to Rajesh Orang at his village. People had come from far and near, paying no heed to the rain for a final glimpse of the local boy who did them proud. Representatives of all the major political parties, including the ruling Trinamool Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) were present to pay their last respects. Similar scenes were witnessed the same evening at Alipurduar in north Bengal when Bipul Roy’s body was brought in by the army. Hundreds of people from the region waited patiently for hours to bid farewell to the young hero.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a compensation of Rs.5 lakh to the families of the two soldiers. “My heartfelt condolences to the families of the brave men martyred at #GalwanValley. I’m at pain to say that two of them belonged to West Bengal — Sepoy Rajesh Orang (Vill Belgoria, PS Md Bazar, Birbhum) & Bipul Roy on General Duty (Vill Bindipara, PS Samuktala, Alipurduar. Nothing can compensate for the supreme sacrifice made by them for the nation or the bereaved families’ loss. We stand by the next of the sons of our soil in this difficult time. To this regard, we’ll provide Rs. 5 lakh & a GoWB job to one member in the deceased's family,” Mamata had posted on social media.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, who had gone to pay his last respects to Orang, said, “China is a poisonous snake. Let no one believe its words. They [the Indian soldiers] were following the rules and regulations prevalent in the border. They had not gone there to fight, they had gone there to see. Taking advantage of the darkness the Chinese soldiers killed 20 jawans, and there are many who are now undergoing treatment. The sacrifice of the soldiers will not go in vain.”

Trinamool heavyweight from Birbhum, Anubrata Mandal, while stating that the Trinamool Congress will always remain by the side of Orang’s family, also lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, going to the extent of calling him a liar.

Meanwhile, at the all-party meeting called by Modi, Mamata Banerjee expressed solidarity with the government of India. “We fully support whatever decision the Central government takes for the country but we should also exercise precaution. China has violated agreements in 1962, 1967, 1975, 2015, and 2017. If they think they are very powerful and will behave like a big brother, India will not bow down in front of them or any other country,” she said. She pointed out that while China, being a dictatorship can do whatever it feels like, India, on the other hand, being a democracy will have to work together.

Mamata also warned against China entering the sectors of Railways, telecommunication and civil aviation in the country. “We should not involve China in these sectors. We might face some problems, but we will figure it out with what we have in our country,” said Mamata. She thanked the Central government for having called the all-party meeting. “It’s a good message for the country that we are united behind the defence forces and we salute our jawans,” she said.

The State also witnessed anti-China protests both by common citizens and political parties. Chinese products were destroyed in some places, and slogans were chanted outside the Chinese Consulate in Salt Lake, Kolkata. In Siliguri in north Bengal, shopkeepers of the famous Hong Kong market that is always flooded with cheap Chinese products, announced that they will no longer sell things that are made in China.

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