In a major ceasefire violation by Pakistan on December 23 in the Keri sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district, not only Sudha and Ambadas Moharkar but the whole town of Pauni in Maharashtra lost their brave son. Outside late Major Prafulla Moharkar’s house in Pauni, two photos of him in uniform along with garlands can be seen. Five days have passed but the tributes keep pouring in. From schoolgirls to the elderly of the village, people take a few steps to the photographs with their shoes off, and bow down in respect. Every family member has a story to tell. Of a man who was a sportsman, was obsessed with cleanliness; of someone who thought it was his duty to make others happy. On the evening of December 23, Sudha and Ambadas Moharkar were on a train to Pune to visit their younger son when they received the call about the firing on the LoC. They got off the train mid-route and traveled back to Pauni arriving at 3 am. By that time, there were already 400 people at their home, grieving for their son.
Moharkar was born to two teachers and moved between homes in rural Maharashtra often in his childhood, following his mother wherever she was posted. He spent another three years of school at Taas village before taking up school at Somalvar school in Nagpur where he lived with his aunt. Right out of school, even as he studied mechanical engineering in Nagpur, he applied for technical entry with the Army and entered the IMA in 2002 as a 17-year-old. A year later, he moved to the College of Military Engineering in Pune where he studied engineering for four years before being commissioned in 2007.
Moharkar married Aboli, who works in an investment bank, four years back. His wife got the heart-shattering phone call from his commanding officer. He beseeched her not to come to Udhampur as did her friends in the Army. A body in a wreath will be very hard to take, they said. “But all I could think about was that I needed to be near him. He had taught me to be strong. And for him, I would hold it together,” she told The Indian Express. She flew to Jammu and then traveled to Udhampur where she saw his body. “I could see only one bullet mark of the four near his neck. But all I could think of was his smiling face. And that this was a death in glory,” she said.
On Monday night, Moharkar’s friends and family watched as his body was brought to Paoni to be laid to rest on the banks of the river that runs by the town, the Vainganga. There were thousands of people on the streets, some from neighbouring villages. They stood with candles, flowers, and tears. The next day, there was a respectful silence, as the town called for a collective bandh. The town believes that the flames of diya flickering bright in front of his photos resembles their pride and glory.