The classmates of an Army officer from the State, who laid down his life battling militants near the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district in 2015, have sent 250 kg of sweets to soldiers in his unit.
Colonel Santosh Mahadik, the Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, was critically injured during the operation in Haji Naka forest area of Kupwara near the LoC in Kashmir in November 2015 and succumbed at a hospital.
“The mithai boxes, weighing over 250 kg, landed at Srinagar airport from Chandigarh and reached the 41 Rashtriya Rifles on Wednesday, for distribution among the soldiers Mahadik once commanded,” said one of his classmates, involved in this initiative. Colonel Mahadik was a student of Sainik School at Satara.
The classmate said, “This Diwali, we thought of his comrades-in-arms, who suffer harsh climes and the enemy from across the border, as well as some within. We thought this would be a nice gesture for soldiers who spend Diwali away from their families.”
An officer from the elite 21 Para-Special Forces unit, Colonel Mahadik was awarded a Sena Medal for gallantry during Operation Rhino in the Northeast in 2003. An ace football goalkeeper, a skilled horse-rider and a passionate boxer, Colonel Mahadik was an all-rounder, his classmates recall.
Despite the inhospitable terrain that made the Kupwara operation immensely challenging, the Colonel particularly chose to lead his battalion.
For Colonel Mahadik’s classmates from the batch which passed out of the Sainik School 24 years ago, this is the third year of the “sweet gesture” which they call ‘Operation Diwali’. Mahadik’s wife Swati was commissioned in the Army as a lieutenant in 2017.