|Chief minister Hemant Soren offers floral tributes to CRPF constable Pradeep Kumar Mirdha (below), while (above) Pammi (extreme left) blinks back tears watching mother Asha Rani (in yellow sari) break down in Kute, near Ranchi, on Thursday. Pictures by Prashant Mitra
She is a soldier’s daughter who is trying to win her own war against tears.
Head constable of the CRPF’s 80th battalion Pradeep Kumar Mirdha, fatally ambushed by Maoists in Chhattisgarh on Tuesday, whose body reached his Kute home in Nagri thana area, around 15km from district headquarters, on Thursday afternoon, has left behind his widow and three daughters.
Mirdha’s eldest daughter Kumari Pammi (13), a Class VIII student of St Thomas School, spoke to The Telegraph while preparing for her father’s last rites at home.
Instead of being tearful, her eyes were blazing when she spoke against Maoists.
“Maovadi apne aap ko kya samajhte hain, hero? Abhi woh log pandrah logon ko mare hai na? Agar woh pandrah marenge to hum pachas bhejenge. (What Maoists think of themselves, heroes? At present, they have killed 15, isn’t it? If they will kill 15 we will send 50),” said the teenager.
Asked she meant by “sending 50”, she said grimly: “Pachas marenge (will kill 50).”
The Maoist ambush left 16 casualties, one of the worst in India in recent memory.
“This isn’t first time that Maoists have killed paramilitary personnel or police or common citizens. They should be given a befitting reply,” the girl added.
The fearless girl also targeted people who did not give soldiers “proper respect”.
Referring to the two-day delay in sending the body of her father home, she said: “If he had been a VIP, his mortal remains would have been flown home in one hour. Magar ek jawan, jo raat raat bhar jag kar duty karte hai, unki to koi izzat hi nahi hai. Body itna late se pahuchaya jata hai ke parijan hi kamzor ho jate hai (But the body of a jawan, who has done his duty round the clock, is sent so late that his family members become broken-hearted).”
Her mother Asha Rani sits with swollen eyes. Evidently she is weeping non-stop. Pammi’s two younger sisters, Priya (8) and Prachi (6), students of YMCA School, are too young to understand Pammi’s rage.
Her grandmother Savitri Devi, a peon at the forge and foundry plant of Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), grandfather Mahadeo Mirdha, uncle Lakshman Kumar huddle together in grief.
A close relative Mahadeo Ram Mirdha (70), who is a retired Indian Army nayak (62nd Tank Unit) and a soldier in the wars of 1965 and 1971, said: “Pammi has all the qualities of her father. She is outspoken like him. I hope she becomes a soldier like him.”
Kalindi Mirdha, a Ranchi University employee and a close family friend, recalled “Pradeep” as an upstanding man. “Even as an NCC cadet, he was in the security team when former president of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam came to the university’s convocation.”
Mirdha’s body reached Kute around 12.50pm by road from Jamshedpur after getting stuck for more than two hours in a jam between the 15km Bundu-Taimara stretch.
Before that, it was sent from Chhattisgarh to Jamshedpur by train.
Chief minister Hemant Soren, director-general of police Rajeev Kumar and top officials of CRPF and police paid their tribute to Mirdha.
Pammi’s eyes finally welled up as her father’s mortal remains were given salutes by all and taken for last rites at a cremation ground behind Yogoda Satsang Mahavidyalaya.