Odisha memorial for a Christian soldier who died in the Himalayan War
by Purushottam Nayak

A year after the clashes with Chinese troops on the border in the Galwan Valley, the parish of Raikia remembers a young man who was of the Indian soldiers who died. He “was a friend of all, Hindus, Christians and Muslims”, giving his life to defend others.


Kandhamal (AsiaNews) – The parish of Our Lady of Charity in Raikia, Kandhamal district (Odisha), has recently remembered Chandrakanta Pradhan, a parishioner who was among the 20 Indian soldiers killed a year ago in fighting with Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley on the Himalayan border.

About hundred people gathered Wednesday last week for a memorial Mass led by Father Pradosh Chandra Nayak, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar.

In his homily, the clergyman spoke of Pradhan as “a courageous son, a true disciple of Jesus who like his Master lived for others, sacrificing his life for the nation”.

People of other religions also joined in at the end of the religious service, when a memorial dedicated to the young man was unveiled.

Father Nayak noted that Pradhan worked for the development of the area and was “a friend of all, Hindus, Christians and Muslims.”

For this reason the memorial, together with the cross that celebrates the passion and death of Christ, also shows the Om, the Hindu symbol that represents the universe, and the crescent moon with the star, a Muslim symbol.

“His death has thrown our family into darkness but it has become the example of a life sacrificed for others that makes us proud,” said Karunakar Pradhan, Chandrakanta's father.

Jayananda Nayak, president of the Kandhamal minority protection group, said that a song was also written to remember the young soldier's sacrifice.

“Local authorities had promised to build a statue in Pradhan's honour at Raikia bus station, but the pandemic forced the work to be postponed,” he explained.