He had finally managed to fulfil every middle-class Indian’s dream and a three-storey house is standing ready in Haryana’s Panipat, waiting for him and his family to move from their rented apartment. The housewarming party was supposed to happen on his birthday, October 23, but Major Aashish Dhonchak will never get to live in the new house. It will now receive his body instead.
Major Dhonchak, a decorated officer of the 19 Rashtriya Rifles, was among the two Army officers and a police officer who died in an encounter with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Wednesday.
The construction of Major Dhonchak’s house, in Sector 7 of Panipat, was finished recently and, on the eve of Independence Day last month, the officer had been awarded the prestigious Sena Medal. He had told his friends and family that he would come home on October 13 and they would have a grand party to celebrate the medal, his birthday and the housewarming on October 23.
The excited officer had told his wife, two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, parents and his three sisters that they would all live together in the three-storey structure after October 23. His distraught family members are now preparing the house to receive his body, which will reach Panipat on Friday morning.
The body will be kept in the house for relatives, friends and acquaintances to pay their last respects, and the cremation will take place in Major Dhonchak’s ancestral village, about 15 km from Panipat, in the afternoon.
Major Dhonchak’s brother-in-law, Suresh, said the officer’s father had not been keeping well – he was in a hospital for six days – and his sister had asked him to come home. The officer had, however, said that he was busy with operations in Jammu and Kashmir and would come home in October.
“I cannot face my sister, I don’t have the courage to face her. I spoke to Aashish after he got the Sena Medal and he told me ‘the country now has fewer enemies’. He spoke to his sister on Tuesday. The new house is ready and they hadn’t shifted because Aashish had said he wanted to buy some things for the house himself. The housewarming was planned for his birthday, October 23,” said Suresh.
“He told his sister that he had to go for a search operation and that he would call two-four hours later. But he never called. Someone from his unit called us on Wednesday afternoon and said that he was badly injured after a gunfight. We thought he would recover. In the night, we found out from media reports that he had died,” he added.
“No other mother should suffer like this. Our soldiers are repeatedly coming back wrapped in the Tricolour. He died for India, and the entire country stands by the soldiers,” said Suresh.