Mother Of Colonel, Killed In Action In Ladakh, Remembers Last Phone Call

Colonel Santosh Babu and two jawans were among 20 soldiers killed in the first fatal clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers since 1975.

Colonel Babu joined the Army in 2004 and was first posted in Jammu and Kashmir, according to his father.

New Delhi:

Colonel Santosh Babu, the army officer who died for the country on Monday night, was to be transferred to Hyderabad but the move was delayed by the coronavirus lockdown. He last spoke to his parents on Sunday, a day before he was killed in a violent face-off with Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh.

Colonel Santosh Babu from Telangana and two jawans, Havildar Palani from Tamil Nadu and Sepoy Ojha from Jharkhand, were among 20 soldiers killed in the first fatal clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers since 1975.

Santosh Babu's wife, daughter, 8, and son, 4, who live in Delhi, have been flown to Telangana.

The Colonel's parents B Upender and Manjula are in deep shock. Their only son, who had always won medals and certificates, was their north star.

In his phone call on Sunday evening with his parents, he seemed concerned about the border tension but he said it could not be discussed as it was a sensitive subject. "I told him to be careful," said his father.

Santosh Babu told his parents not to worry, that the situation on the ground is not like it is being made out in the media. He also shared with them that he had just congratulated his younger sister and brother-in-law on their wedding anniversary.

Yesterday, the officer's parents could not believe at first that he had been killed in action.

"We are under deep shock. We could not believe it when we got to know about our son. I could not believe it as he was very brave. In the last fifteen years, he had been very successful. I immediately asked an officer. Later, several officers of the Army contacted me directly on phone. They said they are making arrangements to get the body from that place to Suryapet," B Upender said.

The retired banker said he always wanted his son to join the army, something he could not do. "I could not join the army and serve my country. So I wanted my son to join the defence forces and serve our country though my relatives discouraged the idea."

"I am both sad and proud. My son has laid down his life for the country. As a mother I am sad. He was my only son," Colonel Babu's mother Manjula said, breaking down frequently as she faced the cameras.

Santosh Babu was in the 16 Bihar regiment as Commanding Officer.

He joined the Army in 2004 and was first posted in Jammu and Kashmir, according to his father.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao expressed his grief over the death of Colonel Babu.

"Colonel Santosh has sacrificed his life for the nation and his sacrifice cannot be valued in any terms," said the Chief Minister, announcing that his government would support the family anyway it could.