38-Year-Old Colonel Dies in Encounter With Terrorists in Kashmir

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Colonel Santosh Mahadik, who was leading a search party, sustained serious bullet injuries in the gun battle that began this morning in a dense forest area of Haji Naka.


Srinagar:  A Colonel of the Army's elite Para Commando force was killed on Tuesday in a fierce gun battle with terrorists that had been on for a week in the Manigah forest area of border district of Kupwara in north Kashmir.

Colonel Santosh Mahadik, 38, was the Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles. He was leading his troops in the encounter against four terrorists when he was shot and grievously wounded this morning. He died in hospital.

For the last one week, the Colonel and his troops had launched a cordon and search operation in Manigah forest area. Three days ago, two soldiers were injured in a gunfight but the terrorists managed to escape. That morning as they zeroed in the cordon, they came under heavy firing. Three soldiers and a Jammu and Kashmir police personnel were also injured in the gunfight.

Colonel Mahadik was from Maharashtra and is survived by his wife and two children 11 and five years of age. The Army said the Colonel had conducted many successful counter terrorist operations and had earlier been awarded the Sena medal for gallantry.

"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," Lieutenant General DS Hooda, Army Commander, Northern Command said.

Colonel Mahadik was the second senior officer killed while fighting terrorists in Kashmir.

Colonel MM Rai, commanding officer of 42 Rashtriya Rifles was killed in January in an encounter with terrorists in south Kashmir's Tral area.

Sources said the group of terrorists involved in today's encounter is believed to have crossed over from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir into Indian territory a few weeks ago.

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