The army Wednesday honoured Colonel Munindra Nath Rai, who was killed during an encounter, 24 hours after he was awarded a Republic Day gallantry medal in an encounter with militants in Handoora hamlet of Tral town in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. A wreath-laying ceremony was held for him in Srinagar on Wednesday.
Wreaths were laid by GOC Chinar Corps Lt Gen Subrata Saha and other senior officers of the garrison. The body of the officer have been taken to hishome town Varanasi, where the cremation ceremony will be held with full military honours.
Speaking on the occasion, Lieutenant General Subrata Saha said that “his heart goes out to the familyand relatives of the brave officer. “May the Almighty bestow strength to them to bear the ultimate loss. I on behalf of whole Chinar Corps salute the brave soldiers,” he said adding that Colonel Rai is survived by his wife and three children.
Subrata Saha informed that when Col Rai’s team reached the house in Handoora Tral and cordoned it off, the relatives of the militant, requested them not to carry out a full-scale operation, as that would entail sequestering the entire village. As the Colonel was engaging with the residents, two militants rushed out firing blindly. Col Rai was hit in the temple and Sanjeev Singh, a part of the Special Operations Group, was killed instantly. “Even after receiving the bullet, the brave Colonel directed his team to evacuate the family members safely from the encounter site,” he said.
He said that Col Rai was the youngest of 13 officers awarded the Yudh Seva Medal on Monday. “It was Colonel Rai who changed the narrative in Tral. Due to his people friendly efforts, people came in large numbers to vote in the recently concluded Assembly elections. Recently, he organized a tour for the Fruit Growers of Tral and facilitated their interaction with the fruit growers of Simla in Himachal Pradesh,” Subrata Saha said adding that it is a matter of pride that we had officers who chose to fight along with his men.
He said that Colonel Rai acted as a savior for the flood affected people in Tral. “He airlifted two females to Badami Bagh, when flood devastated the town. One female was in her family way and gave birth to a baby boy in Badamibagh hospital,” he said adding that Rai played a key role in restoring the faith and confidence of people in Tral in democratic set up.
Soon after the wreath-laying ceremony, Lieutenant General Subrata Saha during his interaction with media said it remains the first priority of the Army to persuade militants to surrender before the operation. “We launch operation against the militants only after they refuse to surrender. We have been putting up certain positive efforts to keep youth away from militancy,” he said that in the first month of the current year, Army managed to neutralize ten hardcore militants while in 2014 the number was only seven. He said Army is playing a key role in bringing complete normalcy in Kashmir and with every passing day the net of militancy is getting crushed in Kashmir Valley.
Saha also paid rich tribute to the Jammu and Kashmir police personnel for laying his precious life during the encounter.