Satara (Maharashtra): Thousands of grieving people turned up on Thursday for the funeral of Colonel Santosh G Mahadik who was killed while fearlessly leading his men in an operation against militants in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, an official said.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other dignitaries paid homage to Col Mahadik and offered sympathies to his family members, including parents, wife Sashwati, two children and brothers.
Later, the slain hero's body was brought in an army cortege to his native village Pogarwadi early on Thursday and kept for people to pay their last respects.
Col Mahadik, who was decorated with a Sena Medal, was accorded a funeral with full military honours in an open ground in the village, the official said.
The Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, Col Mahadik, 38, was leading a search party and was critically injured when militants, holed up in a dense forested area of Haji Naka in Kupwara district, fired at him.
Hailing from Satara, Col Mahadik belonged to a small farmer's family and later joined the Satara Military School, before joining the army in 1998.
A family friend described Col Mahadik as "a gentle, soft-spoken officer who never conveyed the looks of a special forces officer, besides being a forceful orator who spoke his mind".
The last rites were performed in the presence of his immediate and extended family members, Pogarwadi villagers and people from Satara district who raised cries of "Santosh Mahadik amar rahe".
An expert paratrooper and a combat underwater driver, Col Mahadik became the second Commanding Officer to be martyred in terrorist encounter this year.
On January 27, Col Munindra N Rai of the Gorkha Rifles, was martyred at Handora village in Tral, south Kashmir, just a day after he was honoured with the Yudh Seva Medal in the Republic Day awards list.
Later, Col Rai was posthumously conferred with the 'Shaurya Chakra' on Independence Day on August 15 this year.