The army today saluted its officer, Colonel Munindra Nath Rai, who died while battling fighting terrorists in Kashmir on Tuesday, just 24 hours after he was awarded a Republic Day gallantry medal.
“He was a very brave officer. He showed that our army officers lead from the front. We killed the two terrorists but it is sad that he was too was killed,” said Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhaag.
On Tuesday morning, Colonel Rai received intelligence inputs that terrorists were hiding in a village in Tral in South Kashmir, and rushed there with a quick reaction team of eight to 12 men.
When Col Rai’s team reached the house and cordoned it off, its residents, suspected to be relatives of the terrorists, requested them not to carry out a full-scale operation.
As the Colonel was engaging with the residents, two terrorists rushed out firing blindly. Col Rai was hit in the temple and head constable Sanjeev Singh, a part of the Special Operations Group, was killed instantly. The terrorists were shot down. The Colonel died in hospital.
He is the highest-ranking military officer to be killed in the region in nearly a year.
His last status on the mobile messaging service WhatsApp, posted two months ago, read: “Play your role in life with such passion, that even after the curtains come down, the applause doesn’t stop.”
Col Rai was the youngest of 13 officers awarded the Yudh Seva Medal on Monday, for killing a terrorist in a close battle last year. The Yudh Seva Medal is awarded for the highest degree of distinguished service in a war or conflict.
“Under his leadership, the narrative in Tral was changing. It is a matter of pride that we had an officer of such capability…even at such a senior rank, he chose to fight with the men,” said commanding officer Subrat Saha.
Col Rai is survived by his wife and three children.