In January last year, 11-year-old Alka stood bravely in front of the corpse of her father Colonel MN Rai who was martyred while protecting the nation in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. The world saw Alka’s valour on television as she raised a Gorkha war cry while paying last respects to her father.Ironically, Colonel Rai was killed in a gunbattle just a day after he had received the Yudh Seva Medal on Republic Day for his soldiering heroics. Colonel Rai’s tragic death brought a premature end to the life and career of a decorated soldier who would have only got better with time.
The officer’s wife Priyanka is now doubly responsible for raising her three children Alka, Richa (8) and Aditya (6) in the absence of her martyred husband.
By the end of the year in November, another brave Indian soldier had been martyred in Kashmir. Colonel Santosh Y Mahadik lost his life while battling anti-national elements in Kupwara. The deceased officer left behind two children Kartiki (11) and Swaraj (5).
Terrorism is bleeding India. It is bleeding our brave soldiers many of whom departed even before their hair had started turning grey. But this shouldn’t be seen as a mark of weakness of our soldiers. For quite some time now, India has not seen a major terror strike resulting in the death of hundreds of civilians as happened during the 1993 Mumbai blasts and 26/11. Much of the credit for this goes to Indian soldiers who have to be commended for managing to protect their country even at the cost of their lives.
But the curse of terrorism has returned to haunt India yet again over the course of the New Year weekend. Barely a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, terrorists attacked an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, Punjab. The Indian Consulate in Afghanistan also came under attack late on January 3 night. The twin attacks cannot be a mere coincidence but they hint at a larger strategy of derailing the Indo-Pak peace process.
Though the terrorists succeeded in engaging our security forces for long in an operation which has lasted for over 48 hours now but the Indian forces surely gave them a befitting reply by neutralising one terrorist after another. However, seven Indian brave hearts lost their lives while securing the IAF base in Pathankot from terrorists.