Soft-spoken, a parent figure: TN village remembers slain havildar Palani

Palani was one among the 20 men from the Indian Army who lost their lives in the standoff with Chinese troops on Monday night in the Ladakh region.
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The village of Kadukkaloor near Thiruvadanai in Ramanathapuram district wore a sombre look on Wednesday. The village and its residents are mourning the death of Palani, a havildar with the Indian Army who died on Monday night in the massive escalation between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in the Ladakh region. 

The 40-year-old, who had joined the army when he was 18, had spoken to his family on June 1, just before the housewarming ceremony of the new house he was constructing in his village. While Palani was posted at the border, his anxious family – parents Kalimuthu and Lokambal, wife Vanathi Devi and his two kids – lived in the village, surrounded by their near and dear ones.

“He said that due to coronavirus and problems at the border, he cannot come for the housewarming. So he asked me not to wait for his arrival and to boil the milk (a ritual conducted while moving into a new house). We did the housewarming ceremony for our new house only on June 3,” a shattered Vanathi Devi told Thanthi TV. She added that Palani had told her not to be worried or scared that he is being moved to the border and so will not be able to speak to her for the next few days.

Having joined the army at the young age of 18, Palani still had around three years of service left. Idhayakkani, Palani’s younger brother, had also joined the armed forces following in his brother’s footsteps. It was Idhayakkani who informed his parents about Palani’s death on Tuesday.

“Palani said that he will be back home in two years and when I told him I was worried, he consoled me and said that he was there fighting for our motherland. So I agreed. I’m shattered because this was unexpected and he died so young,” Palani’s father Kalimuthu lamented. Lokambal, Palani’s mother, remembered her eldest son as a soft-spoken, good-natured man who was liked by everyone in the village. For Seethalakshmi, Palani’s younger sister, he was like a parent.

The village remembers Palani as an extremely helpful and a quiet person who was content minding his own business. Villagers also told Tamil news channels that Palani was a beacon of hope for the youngsters in the village, guiding many of them to take up good careers.

Palani is among the 20 Indian Army personnel who were killed in the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh region on Monday night. The violence between the troops of both countries is the first such incident in the last 45 years and was the culmination of a border row between India and China that had been brewing over the past five weeks.

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