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A determined officer’s ultimate sacrifice in the service of nation

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Grieving: Beena Jojan Thomas (sitting), wife of Colonel Thomas, at her residence in Bangalore on Saturday.
Grieving: Beena Jojan Thomas (sitting), wife of Colonel Thomas, at her residence in Bangalore on Saturday.

Staff Reporter

Colonel Jojan Thomas killed in battle against militants

He was one of the four Indian soldiers who were killed

He will be buried at the cemetery on Hosur Road with full State honours

BANGALORE: The death of Colonel Jojan Thomas in an encounter with militants in Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday morning has left his family and friends devastated. Nevertheless, for his family, which has several members who have served in the Defence forces, his death is the ultimate sacrifice he could have made for the nation.

Col. Thomas was killed as he led a quick reaction team from 45 Rashtriya Rifles in the dense forests of Macchal sector, near the Line of Control. His team shot down six militants and he was one of the four Indian soldiers who were killed in the battle. He is survived by his wife Beena Jojan Thomas, daughter Meghana Thomas, (18) and son Philemon Thomas (11).

The flat in Manekshaw Vihar on St. John’s Church Road, where Ms. Thomas lives with her children, witnessed a series of religious prayers on Saturday evening as the family members waited for the arrival of the body.

Many of Col. Thomas’s friends and colleagues joined the family members in the evening prayers, conducted by Kuriakose Mar Severios, the Archbishop of Malankara Syrian Knanaya Jacobite Archdiocese.

Col. Thomas worked in the Army Service Corps Centre and College here for about two years before taking up the task of heading the 45 Rashtriya Rifles in Jammu and Kashmir. Col. Thomas was an officer who led from the front. “He had a strong determined mind and believed in excelling in whatever he was doing, whether guarding the border or rescuing personnel,” said his colleague Col. T.K. Jacob who worked with Col. Thomas in the ASC Centre and College.

Col. Thomas was the eldest of four sons. His father P.A. Thomas, who served in the Indian Army as a mechanical engineer, died just a month ago. “Our family has been serving in the Defence forces for a long time. My brother worked in Indian Navy and another brother served in the Indian Army,” said Joby Thomas, Col. Thomas’s brother.

Col. Thomas was commissioned from the Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai, in March 1986 in the 11 Jat Regiment. A native of Kuttoor in Kerala, Col. Thomas held several prestigious staff appointments. He was also an experienced pilot. Major Sandhu, who served with Col. Thomas and was associated with him for eight years, said Col. Thomas was “a fantastic leader and had experience of participating in various counter-insurgency operations. There is a lot that I learnt from him … He was my mentor and godfather. Men under him were ready to do anything for him,” he said.

Col. Thomas’s body was brought by an Indian Airlines flight from New Delhi on Saturday. On Monday, Col. Thomas’s body will be taken to St. John’s Church in Domlur. He will be buried at the cemetery on Hosur Road with full State honours.

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