The ashes of his beloved grandmother being immersed in river Godavari, considered holy by the Hindus, Chandu Chavan finds peace in his ancestral house in Dhule’s Borvihir village now. Back to his native place after the first round of inquiry, Chandu Chavan is slated to return to Jammu to face another round of inquiry on 8 April. Chandu, a jawan of 37 Rashtriya Rifles, had inadvertantly crossed over to the other side of the Line of Control last year. After efforts through diplomatic channels, he was successfully brought back from Pakistan to India in January this year. Today, Chandu enjoys playing a doting uncle to his five-month old nephew. “There is joy in the house because of the baby. I like it the most here, in my house,” Chandu told The Sunday Guardian from his ancestral home in Borvihir.
After he was handed over to India in January this year, he went through a round of questioning in India. He was asked where he was kept. What was he asked, why he had crossed over to the other side. Asked if he underwent any counselling sessions in India after being handed over by Pakistan, his family responded in the negative.
“His return to the family is therapeutic for him. That is like counselling for him. I am happy to see him return to normalcy. He has gone through a lot. Now, he needs to relax a bit,” Chandu’s elder brother Bhushan Chavan told this correspondent.
Chandu received a hero’s welcome in his village. Residents had thronged the streets to welcome him. Locals said they were excited to see him back in his home. When he was captured by Pakistan after he had crossed over last year, his grandmother had died of shock. “She was the one who nurtured him. She was very attached to him,” Bhushan said. The family had decided that it will not immerse the ashes of the grandmother till Chandu returned home. This week, Chandu and the family travelled to Nashik for “asthi-visarjan” in Ramkund, considered pious by the devout Hindus. It is situated in Nashik.
“After he returned to India, he told the officials how much he was tortured. They asked him what information did Pakistan seek from him. He told them about his conversations there. His eyes were also tied up with a black cloth there. He never saw any light. He was moved to various places after being captured. Something was injected in him. He was kept in dark and dingy places. It was only after he was returned to India that he saw the daylight,” Bhushan said.
Asked about his feelings, Chandu said he was elated to be back home. “Here, I go and meet my friends. I feel great. After coming back home, I feel normal now. I immensely enjoy playing with the baby. It is nice that my sister is here. I get to spend time with her and the baby,” he said.
He added that he is to return to Jammu next month on 8 April.
He will face the second round of inquiry there. Bhushan said: “He has been told not to speak about the inquiry to anyone. He is not allowed to give any details. But we are immensely grateful to the government and to the media to have taken up his cause.”
The family now wants to mobilise support for the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is claimed to be an Indian spy in Pakistan’s custody. Pakistan has denied reports of his custody with them.