Gen visits slain jawan’s family, rejects Pak charges

FP

Army Chief General Bikram Singh, who met the family of slain Lance Naik Hemraj Singh at his native village here on Wednesday, said it was "incorrect" to say that Indian troops had violated the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC).

Speaking to reporters after meeting Hemraj's wife Dharamvati, his five-year-old son Prince and mother Meena, Singh said the death of a Pakistani soldier, which Pakistan alleged was an "unprovoked attack", possibly took place in "retaliatory fire". It was this death that triggered the recent round of border tension in Jammu and Kashmir.

"It is incorrect to say that Indian troops violated the ceasefire across the LoC. However, when there is fire from across the border, our men retaliate. There is cross-firing on occasion, and it is unfortunate if this caused the death of the soldier," he said.

Singh was accompanied by his wife. "I came here to express solidarity with the family of the martyred jawan. Keeping in mind the responsibilities that I hold, it is not possible to visit the homes of all the 10,800 war widows in this country. However, it was my bounden duty to come here after I was told that Hemraj's wife and mother were on a hunger strike and wanted to meet me. They are part of the extended Army family, and all the support that I can give will be provided to them," said Singh, who stayed for about half an hour in the village.

Speaking to The Indian Express after Gen. Singh left, Dharamvati said: "He told us that our wish to see a member of our family in the Army, and for our children to go to school, would be taken care of."

Hemraj's mother added: "Even after this incident, I want to see my grandson in the Army."

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