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April 2022


On a cloudy morning, an Army Shaktiman truck was parked beside a tea stall on the outskirts of Baramulla in Kashmir. Several soldiers remained sitting in the back of the truck holding the rifles with their butts resting on the floor. They wore olive green Army fatigues. One soldier stepped down and headed to the tea stall. He brought back several plastic cups of steaming tea and passed the tray to the soldier sitting near the entrance. That man passed the teacups to the others and returned the empty tray to the soldier standing on the ground. His name is Varghese Chandy. The Kottayam-based Varghese had joined the Army three years ago. The 23-year-old belonged to a lower-middle-class family. His father had been a struggling farmer. They had a tough time right through his childhood, making ends meet. So, Varghese opted for the Army. He knew he would get a…