Tag Archives: Shaurya Chakra

Col Santosh Mahadik Laid down Life Bravely Fighting Terrorists

Colonel Santosh Mahadik was born on 15th January 1977 in Pogarwadi in the city of Satara in Maharashtra. Son of a dairy farmer, Col Mahadik grew up to be a keen sportsman and was a champion boxer, goalkeeper, and runner. He completed his education in Sainik School, Satara in Maharashtra and later went on to join the Indian Army in December 1998. In the Army, he got trained in various disciplines and became a very adept paratrooper and combat underwater diver too.

Col Mahadik volunteered for the para training and got trained as a para-commando. He then served in the 21 Battalion (Parachute Regiment) as part of special forces known for its daredevil operations. As an officer of the elite 21 Para-Special Forces unit, Col Mahadik led many successful operations against militants in their hideouts in Jammu and Kashmir and in the northeast for over a decade. He was awarded the Sena Medal in 2003 for his bravery and leadership in counter-terrorist operations, during Operation Rhino in Lolab Valley in Kupwara. In the later part of his service career, Col Mahadik took over as commanding officer of 41 RR unit deployed in J & K for anti-insurgency operations.

During 2015, Col Santosh Mahadik as Commanding Officer of the 41 Rashtriya Rifles was engaged in anti-terrorist operations in the militancy infected Kupwara area of J & K. The 41 RR was deployed in the Kalaroos area and was also the garrison guard for Kupwara town. Under the operational command of the Trehgam-headquartered 68 Mountain Brigade, the battalion provided the security cover against the militants sneaking from across the border. Col Mahadik was a leader par excellence and always led from the front. On 13th November, he led an operation in the forests of Haji Naka in the Kupwara district near the Line of Control. The Kupwara operation was particularly challenging because of the inhospitable terrain, but Col Mahadik chose to personally lead his men in the operation.

It was believed that terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba were active in the region. For a week, the terrorists, who had crossed the border, had been hiding in the Manigah forest. On 17th November, another operation was launched led by Col Mahadik himself to foil the attempt of the terrorists to infiltrate. During the combing operation the suspected infiltrators were spotted and on being challenged they opened fire at the troops. A fierce gun battle ensued with heavy exchange of fire from both sides. During the operation Col Mahadik got shot in the chest was critically injured. Gravely wounded, he was rushed to a military hospital in Durgmulla where he succumbed to his injuries. Col Mahadik was martyred but his bravery, indomitable spirit, and leadership were truly inspirational. He was conferred the Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peace time gallantry award for his valour and self-sacrifice.

 Besides being a brave soldier that he was, he was also an intellectual who wished more than anything to revive the natural beauty of Kupwara and revive tourism. He reconstructed old monuments and organized football and cricket matches to build bridges with the local community. He felt revival of tourism was the way, the youth could be given employment and diverted from radicalization. He would personally counsel ex-militants and show them the path to a new life.Colonel Santosh Mahadik is survived by his wife and two children. He had told his wife Swati not to wear any white cloth if he attains martyrdom in the line of duty but to adorn herself with olive green uniform he wore till his last. As a tribute to her hero husband, she set out to join the army herself. She successfully cleared the SSB (Service Selection Board) exam and joined the Officers Training Academy in Chennai, where she trained for 11 months before joining the service as Lieutenant in 2017.

M Kamal Naidu – 1st Civilian to Get Shaurya Chakra!

Compiled By: Shri Ramakrishna Prasad

M Kamal Naidu, a graduate of Hyderabad’s agriculture university cleared the UPSC examination and joined Indian Forest Service in 1962. A decade later, in 1972, he was posted as district forest officer in Karimnagar (a thickly forested district of undivided Andhra Pradesh), a hotbed of Naxal activity. The left-wing extremists were involved in illicit cultivation on 4,200 acres of forest land and warned Naidu about obstructing them. Undeterred by the threats and taunts, the dedicated IFS officer stood his ground and continued to protect government property.

On August 10, 1972, Naidu was on duty when he was ambushed by the Naxals near Paloncha.

“The first bullet hit me in the mouth. I was alone; my associates ran away. I lost all of my right jaw teeth. They smashed my face with a rifle butt. The second bullet went through my arm and exited from my shoulder. I got a blow on my head which required 18 stitches,” the courageous officer later recalled to the Deccan Chronicle.

As a result of the grievous injuries he suffered, Naidu remained confined in the hospital for three and a half months. Even after he was discharged, the painful effects of those wounds lingered. In fact, nearly 40 years after the incident, he underwent another operation (his last one) in 2013 to remove minute bullet pellets that had remained embedded in his mouth. However, Naidu’s exemplary dedication to duty and courage in the face of danger remain unacknowledged and unappreciated by the government.

Naidu was the principal chief conservator of forests in Andhra Pradesh from 1995 to 96 and was well-known in wildlife and forest conservation circles for his efforts to protect forests and wildlife. He had also worked as the director of the National Zoo in New Delhi. The IFS officer survived another close encounter with death. This time, the attack came from a cobra when he was director of the Delhi Zoo. On being informed that a six-and-a-half-foot black cobra had entered the lions’ enclosure, Naidu rushed to the rescue of the two cubs who were in danger. He aimed at the cobra’s spine with his gun but missed. Realising that any further delay could lead to the death of the cubs, he picked up the deadly serpent by its tail. Naidu was trying to get hold of its neck when the cobra twisted and sank its fangs into his hand. He flung it away but the enraged snake attacked him again. But this time, he was successful in killing it. Hiring an autorickshaw, the bleeding officer immediately went in search of life-saving anti-venom, going from hospital to hospital till he found it! It was only after a three-day struggle that the doctors managed to save the IFS officer’s life. Soon afterwards, the then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi got to hear of Naidu’s two death-defying escapades and sent him a get-well letter. The PM was also the one who initiated the process to honour Naidu with India’s third highest peacetime gallantry award, the Shaurya Chakra, in 1988. Even after his retirement, Naidu continued to work with the civil society. He was also appointed to the Supreme Court Commission tasked with the inspection of the disputed boundary areas between Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. He passed away on April 18, 2018 in Hyderabad at the age of 79.