Honouring Colonel Santosh Mahadik, who died battling terrorism

The 38-year-old commando officer gave up his life fighting LeT militants in north Kashmir's Kupwara.

 |  Know Your Enemy  |  2-minute read |   17-11-2015
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Colonel Santosh "Santo" Mahadik was 38 years old. He fell today fighting three Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in the forbidding Manigah-Hygam forest area in north Kashmir's Kupwara.

The three LeT terrorists had infiltrated last week, managing to evade capture by an Army patrol in the Manigah area on Friday. Colonel Santosh's unit intercepted the terrorist group last night in the Behak forest area. Once again the terrorists managed to escape.

On November 17, in the third engagement with the same group that began with a fierce automatic fire ambush by the terrorists, Colonel Santosh took bullets while leading from the front, critically injuring him and another soldier, identified as Majloom Ahmad of a Territorial Army unit.

Colonel Santosh was carried away from the encounter site, passing away shortly thereafter. The other soldier has survived, but is fighting for his life.The commando officer, formerly with the 21 Parachute Regiment (Special Forces) was decorated with a Sena Medal for bravery and leadership in operations against terrorists in 2003, just five years after he was commissioned into the Indian Army.

The Army's Northern Commander, Lt Gen DS Hooda made a statement today that ought to echo India-wide, especially at this time: “We owe a deep debt of gratitude to officers like Santosh who lead from the front and are willing to pay the ultimate price in the fight against terrorism."

In a firefight, the luxury of a decision evaporates in fractions of a second. There, quite literally, is do or die. Colonel Santosh ensured that he led from the front till the very end. The courage of soldiers and officers fighting terrorists is something most of us can only hope to imagine. And yet, with each passing death, it becomes clearer that national empathy has receded just a little further away.

Colonel Santosh was the son of a milkman from Satara, Maharashtra. He joined the Sainik School in his town, sure from youth that he wanted to fight. "Calm in composure, gentle in demeanour, he carried a storm in his heart", says one of his schoolmates. A formidable boxer and footballer, he always dreamed of being a warrior. It's the one thing everyone remembers about him.

He died doing what he always wanted to: fight India's enemies.

Colonel Santosh is survived by his wife and two young children, aged 11 and 5.

Writer

Shiv Aroor Shiv Aroor @shivaroor

Editor (Output) at India Today TV. Interests: Military, marine biology, boxing, metal, videogames, horror, hypocrisy.

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