Jagmal Singh “returns” home after 45 Years to get Funeral

It was just like a fairytale, as a 52-year-old son lit the funeral pyre of his 28-year-old father! That happened in Meerpur of Rewari district of Haryana on September 4, when armyman Jagmal Singh was cremated with full military honours. And, there was no gloom in the funeral procession. It was celebrated with drum beats, dance, gulals (colours) and slogans such as ‘Shahid Jagmal Singh Amar Rahe’.

Jagmal Singh JawanAround 45 years ago on Feb 7, 1968, an Indian Air Force AN-12 aircraft crashed on the 17,400-feet high Dhakka Glacier in the Chandrabhaga ranges of Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, leaving 98 army personnel and 4 crew members dead. The debris and dead bodies could not be recovered.

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The disappearance of the aircraft remained a mystery till 2003 when an expedition team accidentally discovered the debris at the Dhakka Glacier. Later, the army undertook several search missions, but could recover just four bodies. The Indian Army launched another expedition on August 16, which resulted in the recovery of the mortal remains of Jagmal Singh, who was identified through an identity disk, an insurance policy and a letter from his family. Jagmal’s wife died Bhagwan Kaur died in 2008. Apart from his son, he is survived by three daughters and their kids.

The high-velocity winds and sub-zero temperatures allow the search window to about 15-20 days a year and that too only for a few hours during the day. That remained the main hindrance for the search teams over the years. Jagmal Singh was a Havaldar with the Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME). His mortal remains were recovered on August 22 and was later flown to Chandimandir Cantonment, near Chandigarh.

The villagers celebrated the return of his dead body and his family was very happy. The funeral, which could not take place 45 years ago, finally occurred. Jagmal’s son, Ramchander (a retired Army Jawan), who was 7 years old, when his father died, lit the funeral pyre at the age of 52, but his father still remained 28!

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