Wanted to serve India from childhood: Kerala family mourns CRPF man killed in Pulwama

Vasanth's family recalls how he always wanted to get into the military services, and a heartbreaking promise he'd made to his two children.
Wanted to serve India from childhood: Kerala family mourns CRPF man killed in Pulwama
Wanted to serve India from childhood: Kerala family mourns CRPF man killed in Pulwama
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It's hard to miss the numerous banners across the roads while stepping into Wayanad district, crossing the Thamarassery ‘churam’ or mountain pass. Each of them pays homage to VV Vasanth Kumar, one of the CRPF personnel who was killed in the recent terror attack in Pulwama.

Like the rest of the country, natives of Vasanth’s hometown in the remote village of Thrikkaipetta in Wayanad, are yet to fully grasp the news. Still in shock, family and friends in the sleepy village have woken up to bid farewell to one of their own.

“He should have expected this someday, to give his life for the country,” said Satheesh, Vasanth's first cousin, who lives at his ancestral house where the last rites will be held later on Saturday. 

Vasanth, who belonged to a Scheduled Tribes community, lived in extreme poverty, said his family members.

"It was only after getting this job that the family started to have a better life. For many years, they had lived in a small hut in Lakkidi. It was in the late 2000s, after Vasanth got the job, that they built a good house," said his paternal aunt Janu.

“He always wanted to serve and live for the country. He did not join the army because of coercion from anyone, even in his teenage years, he dreamt of joining the army and serving the country,” Satheesh added. 

As a small boy, Vasanth and his family had lived in the ancestral home in Mukkamkunnu. When Vasanth was a child, his father got a job at a milk cooperative in Lakkidi and they shifted there. Vasanth spent his school days at Lakkidi LP School and Government High School in Vythiri. He finished his pre degree course from a private college. 

Before getting selected for the CRPF, Vasanth had participated in about 10 other selection camps of various military forces in the country.

“I used to accompany him to all these selection trials. He was very adamant that he get a chance to serve his country. The selection camp for the CRPF was held in Kannur district in 2000. During those times, he did not even have money to get proper accommodation. While going to Kannur for the selection camp, for five days, we stayed at a nearby temple so that we could avoid accommodation and food expenses,” said an emotional Satheesh, recounting the past.

The 44-year-old jawan had completed about 18 years of service in the CRPF, and had been recently promoted to the post of havildar. Before taking charge in the new post, Vasanth had visited his home in Lakkidi and had returned on February 8 to Kashmir. Only six months ago, Vasanth's father passed away and now, the news from Pulwama has shattered the family.

Friends remember Vasanth as somebody with strong willpower. "I first met Vasanth at a selection camp of the Indian army. Though he was first in all the physical tests, he did not get selected because of some reasons. He got selected in the next selection camp which was held in Kannur. Becoming an army man was his passion and his consistent efforts were so inspiring," said Janardhanan, Vasanth's friend, who works in Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB). 

Vasanth's relative Ravi remembers him as a peace-loving, calm man. "Meeting him became less often after he joined the CRPF. But whenever he came for leave, Vasanth never forgot to attend family functions," he said.

Vasanth is survived by his wife Sheena, mother Shanta, children Amandeep (5 years old) and Anamika (8 years old). Sheena works as a temporary clerical staff at Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in Lakkidi.

Her eyes full of tears, Vasanth’s aunt Janu recalled the last time he came to the house.

“Even though they now live in Lakkidi, since every family function is held here in Vazhakkandi (ancestral house) in Mukkamkunnu, they used to come whenever there were any such events. When Vasanth visited the last time, he was very vocal about his retirement. He had said that he will be retiring after two and a half years. He had even promised this to his kids and it’s heartbreaking to think about that promise now,” said Janu.

Vasanth’s mortal remains will be kept at Lakkidi L P School for the public to pay homage, after which the final rites will be conducted with state honours at Vazhakkandi, his ancestral home in Mukkamkunnu.

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