Maj. Mukund Varadharajan was killed in an encounter with militants on Friday

 A pall of gloom descended on the house of Major Mukund Varadharajan (32), at Professors Colony in East Tambaram, as news of his death spread. 

Mukund, belonging to the 44th battalion of Rashtriya Rifles, was killed in an encounter with Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Shopian in South Kashmir on Friday.

A native of Paruthipattu near Avadi, Mukund had been keen on taking up a career in the armed forces right from his childhood, said his father R. Varadharajan, a retired official of Indian Overseas Bank. Mukund completed B. Com at Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya at Selaiyur and went on to do a diploma in journalism at Madras Christian College, Tambaram. He joined OTA, St. Thomas Mount, and passed out in 2004 to become a lieutenant.  He served at the Infantry School in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, and was in Lebanon on a United Nations Mission. Mukund was married to Indu and has a three-year-old daughter Arshea.

Mr. Varadharajan said: “It was his birthday on April 12. When we sent a message, he replied that he would call us up in the evening and did so. We wished him good luck in his mission; but within a fortnight, we got this terrible news. He was determined to take up any assignment and would take brave decisions with ease,” Mr. Varadharajan said.

He said one of his relatives had woken him up in the early hours of Saturday and told him that someone had posted the news on Facebook. “But until I saw it in The Hindu this morning, I could not believe it,” he said.

His wife Geetha Varadharajan recalled that Maj. Mukund’s grandfather  Raghavachari had been an army man and two of his uncles were serving in the army, and this had inspired him to take up this tough career. Defence sources said Maj. Mukund’s body would be flown to Chennai on Sunday.

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