Just three days ago Pankaj Tripathi was at home in his village, wrapping up a two-month vacation with his wife Rohini and a three-year-old son.
On Friday morning, the family awaited the return of the CRPF jawan, expecting him in a coffin wrapped in the tricolour.
The 35-year-old is among the 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel killed Thursday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Kashmir, soon after his return to his unit.
The family, and the village of Harpur in Uttar Pradesh’s Maharajganj, learnt of the loss through a phone call Thursday.
“Some officer informed us about my son on the phone. No doubt we are proud that my son gave his life for the motherland but the government should take tough steps against the attackers,” his father Om Prakash Tripathi said.
“The time for talking is up, it’s time to take revenge,” he added.
He said Pankaj Tripathi had spent two months with the family before returning to Kashmir.
Villagers said many families did not cook food in the morning. People were out in the streets, shouting slogans that called for revenge.
“Shaheed Pankaj amar rahe. Badla lo, badla lo, Pakistan se badla lo,” they shouted.
The jawan’s brother Shubham Tripathi said, “When he came here on vacation he said he will be getting transferred to Delhi and will come again in April.”
“I lost my brother and nothing can make up this loss. The leaders enjoy a lot of security and soldiers are kept in the front. They are not given freedom to take action against such acts,” he said.
The scene was similar in Azan Sukhsenpur village in Terwa area of Kannauj district.
Pradeep Singh had also come home this month to visit his wife and two daughters. He left on February 10 to rejoin his unit, and become part of the convoy targeted by the terrorists.
In Kanpur Dehat's Nonari village, Shyam Babu’s family was told his body was expected to arrive Saturday afternoon.
His wailing mother Kailashi said, “I was waiting for his call when I heard about his martyrdom on television.”
She said her son last talked with his wife over the phone on Wednesday and had promised to call again on Thursday.
Angry family members demanded that the country should teach Pakistan a lesson. “What is the Indian government waiting for,” Ruby, the jawan’s wife, said.