Srinagar: The Indian Army, Wednesday, paid a poignant tribute to Colonel MN Rai, the braveheart who laid down his life in the line of duty in Kashmir yesterday – 24 hours after he was awarded a Republic Day gallantry medal.
39-year-old Colonel Rai was the commanding officer of 42 Rashtriyta Rifles. He along with J&K Police constable Sanjeev Singh made the supreme sacrifice after neutralising two terrorists in Tral area of Pulwama.
Col Rai was awarded the Yudh Seva Medal on Monday (Republic Day) for killing a foreign terrorist in a close encounter last year. The Yudh Seva Medal is awarded for the highest degree of distinguished service in a war or conflict.
Fellow Army men and his friends remember Rai as a daring officer. Rai's 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."
Constable Sanjeev Singh was also known for his guts and his commitment to his duty. Singh's WhatsApp status, posted 48 days ago read: "It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don't regret it. My regrets are for the people I could not save: soldiers, buddies, innocents, etc."
Speaking to reporters after a wreath laying ceremony was held in their honour, Lt Gen Subrata Saha, General Officer Commanding of Srinagar based 15 Corps, said, “They made the supreme sacrifice yesterday in a daring operation at Tral. The supreme sacrifice of these two brave men only strengths our resolve to fight all elements inimical to the security of Jammu and Kashmir.”
“Colonel Rai always lead from the front, leading his men,” Saha said.
Describing the sequence of events, the army officer said Col Rai was approached by father and brother of one of the slain terrorists with he would like to surrender and while Rai was hearing them out the terrorists burst into the scene firing indiscriminately.
Colonel Rai displayed quick thinking and retaliated immediately and after a brief and intense fire fight the two terrorists were eliminated. The slain militants were identified as Abid Ahmad Khan and Shiraz Ahmad Dar of Hizbul Mujaheedin outfit.
“Col Rai combined bravery with compassion,” Lt Gen Saha said.
Col Rai is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.