NATIONAL

Braveheart colonel laid to rest

Colonel Santosh Y. Mahadik's wife, mother and childrenpaying tributes during his funeral in Satara, Maharashtra,on Thursday.— PHOTO: PTI

Colonel Santosh Y. Mahadik's wife, mother and childrenpaying tributes during his funeral in Satara, Maharashtra,on Thursday.— PHOTO: PTI  

Thousands of mourners converged on the tiny village of Pogarwadi in Satara district of Maharashtra on Thursday to pay their last respects to Colonel Santosh Mahadik, who laid down his life fighting militants in Kupwara.

Soldiers, politicians and the common people came together to pay homage to the officer, who transcended his humble origins to become the commanding officer of the 41 Rashtriya Rifles counter-insurgency team.

Earlier, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar paid his respects to Col. Mahadik at Aare village, his birthplace. Members of the Maharashtra Cabinet, MPs and legislators were present. On Wednesday evening, the body, flown in an IAF aircraft to Pune, was brought to the National War Memorial for the wreath-laying ceremony.

Through the day, a sea of humanity surged into the cramped Pogarwadi primary school. Soldiers accompanied the casket, wrapped in the National Flag, as the body was brought to the village. He was given a 21-gun salute and cremated with full military honours.

He leaves behind his wife, Swati, 11-year-old daughter Kartiki, and five-year-old son Swaraj. “He was fearless, but of a kindly disposition. He had big plans for developing his village and wanted to instil the spirit of self-sacrifice in the youths of the area by urging them to join the Army,” recalled his brother Jaivant Ghorpade, a milkman.

He recounted how their father, Madhukar, a poor milkman, by dint of hard work, sent Santosh to the Sainik School Col. Mahadik, a champion pugilist who rose to become an officer of the elite 21 Para-Special Forces unit, was awarded the Sena Medal for his exceptional gallantry and leadership as a young officer, battling terrorists in the Lolab Valley of Jammu and Kashmir in 2003.

“It is because of soldiers like Col. Mahadik that the country is stronger today. The State and the country will take care of his family,” said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was present at the funeral.

Recommended for you