Mumbai: It's not always that the arrest of a family member in a foreign soil is celebrated, but for Chandu Babulal Chavan's family it's been a matter of great joy. The reason simply being that till Thursday, his family had no clarity on Chandu's whereabouts, or whether or not he was alive.
"We had doubts that he may actually not be traceable. But Pakistan's confirmation that Chandu is in their custody has given us new hope. We pray to God for his safe return. He will definitely come back. We are relaxed and very happy," said Bhushan Chavan, Chandu's elder brother while speaking with the Firstpost from Dhule.
A sepoy with the 37 Rashtriya Rifles, Chandu had gone missing since September 29, the same night when India carried out surgical strikes inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) destroying several terrorist stations. The 22-year-old had crossed the border near India-Pakistan line of control in Mendhar district of Jammu and Kashmir.
As reported in Firtpost, Pakistan DGMO on Thursday had finally confirmed of Chandu's arrest. Islamabad was informed about the soldier’s movement on the hotline by India's Director General Military Operations Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, according to an Army release issued by the Defence Ministry.
The news of Chandu's disappearance had brought a great pain to his family. His grandmother, Lillabai Patil couldn't bear the news and died of heart attack. "She couldn't bear the news of Chandu's disappearance," said Chavan. The family carried out the cremation in Gujarat, they are waiting for Chandu's return to finish the last rites of throwing her ashes in water.
Born in Borvihir village in the Pachora taluka of Dhule district in Maharashtra, Chandu is the youngest of the three siblings. "Chandu lost his mother and father in childhood, and his grandmother raised them together," said a close relative. Chandu has a sister named Rupali.
Talking exclusively with Firstpost on Friday, Chavan, 27, who is also in the Army (9th Maratha Light Infantry in Gujarat) sounded happy and thankful to the government for its efforts. "Both Minister of State, Defense, Dr Subhash Bhamre and Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar are giving us all support. My brother Chandu will be back before Diwali. My fingers are crossed," said, who is currently posted in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
Chandu joined the Indian Army in 2012. He was posted in Jammu and Kashmir in June 2016. "We are a small and happy family. Chandu was coming to meet us on 20 September, but the Uri attack canceled all soldier's leaves. I spoke to him on 28 September before he crossed the LOC," Bhushan told Firstpost.
Chandu’s family has been in talks with Bhamre, who had also helped them meet foreign minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday.