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Indian Catholic war hero's widow dies at 91

Tributes pour in for 'very inspiring and God-fearing' Balamdina, whose husband Albert Ekka won India's highest military honor

Indian Catholic war hero's widow dies at 91

Catholics take the mortal remains of Balamdina for the final funeral ritual on April 16 in Jari in Gumla district of India's Jharkhand state. (Photo supplied)

Catholics, political leaders and activists in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand are mourning the death of Balamdina, widow of war hero Albert Ekka, the first Catholic tribal soldier to win India’s highest military award.

Balamdina, 91, died on April 16 of old age in Chainpur town, where she was living with her son Vincent, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren.

“She was a very inspiring and God-fearing lady who was like a role model for many in and around her locality as she always spoke of patriotism and deep faith in God,” Ratan Tirkey, a member of the tribal advisory committee of Jharkhand’s government, told UCA News.

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“Unfortunately, her three dreams of establishing a hospital in her husband’s Jari village, naming a road and making a mausoleum for Albert were unfulfilled.

“Several governments came to power in Jharkhand in the past 20 years. All promised the same but to date none of her dreams has come true. But she had no complaints. She had faith in government but above all Christian faith.”

The Catholic tribal leader said Hemant Soren, Jharkhand’s current chief minister, has promised to fulfil her dreams.

Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu hailed Balamdina as a great patriot like her husband

Balamdina was buried near the tomb of her husband, a hero of the Indo-Pakistan War in 1971 who was posthumously conferred the Param Vir Chakra (Greatest of the Ultimate Brave).

Archbishop Felix Toppo of Ranchi and his Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas sent a condolence message to her family.

Soren said Balamdina was “the symbol of struggle.” His message prayed for peace for her soul and strength to her bereaved family to bear the loss.

Jharkhand governor Draupadi Murmu hailed Balamdina as a great patriot like her husband.

Arjun Munda, the federal tribal affairs minister, tweeted his deepest condolences to the bereaved family.

Albert Ekka, who died during the Battle of Gangasagar on Dec. 3, 1971, married Balamdina three years before the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War began.

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