The Real Heroes


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).

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Colonel Santosh Y Mahadik

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.

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Major Fateh Singh

These included Subedar Major Fateh Singh, a 51-year-old officer who was a recipient of a gold and silver medal at the 1995 Commonwealth Shooting Championship in New Delhi. Union minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore offered his condolence on the death of Fateh Singh by tweeting, “Deepest regards for ace shooter Fateh Singh. Glory for India during his lifetime and pride in death.”
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Corporal Gursewak Singh

Corporal Gursewak Singh who had got married to 26-year-old Jaspreet Kaur only a month ago on November 18 was also martyred.
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Lieutenant Colonel Niranjan Kumar

So was Lieutenant Colonel Niranjan Kumar who is survived by his wife Dr KG Radhika and a two-year old daughter.Col MN Rai, Col Santosh Y Mahadik, Lt Col Niranjan Kumar, Subedar Major Fateh Singh, Corporal Gursewak Singh and many others have died while on the line of duty. They have made India proud. It is now the responsibility of the Central and state governments to repay the debt of these soldiers by looking after their family members. The young children of these martyrs should never feel the absence of their father nor should the wives, parents or relatives of these gentlemen ever be made to run from pillar to post in the quest for compensation. Nothing can ease the pain of the family members but the government should necessarily do its bit and not limit itself to made-for-media relief announcements.

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