Mathura, Jan 14: The family members of Lance Naik Hemraj, who was decapitated by Pakistani troops in the Mendhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Jan 8, reluctantly ended their six-day fast after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and top BJP leaders visited them.
Hemraj's widow Dharamvati, mother Meena Devi and a cousin Narendra had refused to consume food till Army Chief General Bikram Singh personally assures them that the severed head of the 13 Rajputana Rifles jawan will be brought back.
However, the trio's health deteriorated and Meena Devi even lost consciousness. Intravenous fluid had to be administered to her. Since doctors stressed that it would be unwise to continue the hunger strike any longer, she and her daughter-in-law agreed to eat solid food for the first time since they received information of Hemraj's death.
Besides, Akhilesh Yadav had already promised to fulfil the family's demands including provision of better amenities in the village. The chief minister, whom many had criticised for not attending Hemraj's funeral and ignoring the bereaved till date, was contrite today. Noting that this is the time to offer moral support to the matryr's kin, he said that the state government will look into their grievances regarding lack of facilities.
Akhilesh evaded queries about the controversial remark by a Samajwadi Party minister on Dharamvati and Meena Devi's hunger strike. Ram Karan Arya, Minister for Sports and Youth Welfare in Uttar Pradesh, had demeaned their fast by dubbing it as a "petty thing".
Incidentally, BJP president Nitin Gadkari accompanied by senior party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh met Hemraj's relatives an hour or so before the CM's belated visit to the village.
Earlier in the day, Bikram Singh termed the beheading of Hemraj as a "gruesome and unpardonable act". Addressing a press conference in New Dehi, the army chief said that he shares the grief of the matryr's kin. About Dharamvati, he said: "I am sorry (for all her pains and sorrows). She is a part of the army family... she will be provided with all the entitlements."
The army chief told newspersons that he will call on the grieving family. "I will go. They are my people. Tomorrow is Army Day, I will send my senior officer there. I will definitely go. Let this event, the Army Day, be over, I will definitely go and meet the family," Singh said.