Three days after Naik Kuldeep Singh’s body arrived home in Ludhiana from Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, his wife got a letter from him. It was 18 years ago but Mandeep Kaur, 49, still remembers the heartache that pink ‘sainik patr’ gave her.

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The soldier, who was killed in Operation Rakshak, flushing out intruders left behind after the Kargil war, had written the letter just two days before his death, on July 13, 2000.

Kuldeep’s body arrived home on July 16 in a coffin. Then on July 19, the letter arrived. For the family, it was like a painful déjà vu. It was like living through the agony of Kuldeep’s body arriving a second time.