He was accorded a funeral with full military honours including a 21 gun salute in his home town Satara.
Thousands of people paid tributes to Colonel Santosh Mahadik whose body was brought to Pogarwadi village in Satara where his last rites were performed. Mahadik sacrificed his life battling militants in Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar visited the family members in the village and paid his last respects to the martyr. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had paid homage to Col Mahadik in Pune when the Army officer’s mortal remains were brought there en route to his native Satara district.
Mahadik’s close friends said that he was courageous and always spoke about laying down his life for the sake of the nation. “Though calm by nature and gentle in demeanour, he carried a storm in his heart,” one of his classmates, who is also in the Army, said.
An ace football goalkeeper, a skilled horse-rider and a passionate boxer, he was an all-rounder, his friends recall. A commanding officer of anti-terror force 41 Rashtriya Rifles, his colleagues remember Mahadik as the brave heart who always led from the front.
Colonel Mahadik succumbed to bullet injury while fearlessly leading a search party in an operation against militants in a dense forested area of Haji Naka in Kupwara district. He was accorded a funeral with full military honours in an open ground in the village.
With teary eyes, the mourning villagers bid adieu to their son who made them proud and shouted slogans like “Col Mahadik Amar Rahe” as his mortal remains were consigned to flames.
Mahadik, who hailed from Maharashtra and was commissioned in the Army in 1998, originally joined the Special Forces, and had received Sena Medal for exhibiting gallantry and leadership in counter-terrorist operations, Defence spokesman said.
Colonel Mahadik belonged to a small farmer’s family and later joined the Satara Military School, before joining the army in 1998. His father was a tailor and brother a milkman.
Colonel Mahadik is survived by wife and two children, who were present during the cremation.
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command Lt Gen DS Hooda has expressed deep condolences on the loss of the Colonel.
“We owe a deep debt of gratitude to officers like Santosh who lead from the front and are willing to pay the ultimate price in the fight against terrorism,” Lt Gen Hooda said.
Colonel Mahadik is the second martyr Pogarwadi village has given to the country.
“I cannot imagine the loss of the family, I can simply pray for them. But I understand how big a loss it is for the unit, when a brave commanding is killed. Losses of such brave and talented officer are beyond any description.” said a senior Army officer.