Most of we Indians had enjoyed Uri:the surgical strike movie. And most of us choked when the little girl, at her father’s funerals shouted out his regimental war cry!
But do we know the real incident which inspired that particular scene in the movie?
Do we remember Burhan Wani? Yes all of us have heard his name. Indian media made sure of that. Unfortunately that terrorist became a celebrated hero for some people.
Now let us ask ourselves one last question how many of us remember Col. M.N.Rai? most of us would need the help of internet to know about him.
He was awarded Yudh Seva Medal on Republic Day 2015.
Barely 24 hours later, acting on the intelligence inputs of terrorists hiding at a house in Tral region, he went with a quick reaction team.
Colonel Rai, aged 39, was the highest-ranking military officer to be killed in the region in nearly a year.
His last status on the 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.”
A policeman, Sanjeev Singh, who was also killed in the encounter, which the army described as an intense gun battle at a village in Pulwama in south Kashmir.
“It was my duty to shoot the enemy, and I don’t regret it. My regrets are for the people I couldn’t save: soldiers, buddies, innocents, etc,” said the policeman’s status message on WhatsApp, posted 48 days ago.
On January 27th morning, Col Rai received intelligence inputs that terrorists were hiding in a house at a village in Tral and he rushed there with a quick reaction team of eight to 12 men.
Army sources said that when Col Rai’s team reached the house and cordoned it off, its residents, suspected to be father and brother of the terrorists, requested them not to carry out a full-scale operation, as that would entail sequestering the entire village.
Col Rai displaying good leadership and following the Army doctrine of WHAM(Winning Hearts and Minds), decided to give the terrorists an opportunity to surrender.
As the Colonel was engaging with the residents, The terrorists, however, took advantage of this act of compassion and started firing in order to escape. The forces soon cornered the terrorists after a while and gunned down the two terrorists.
But during the heavy exchange of fire Col M N Rai got severely injured, Col Rai was hit in the temple and Sanjeev Singh, a part of the Special Operations Group, was killed instantly. The terrorists were shot down.
The Colonel Rai breathed his last in the hospital.
And the terrorist who betrayed the trust and open fired at the defence personnel was Burhan Wani.
Col Rai was the youngest of 13 officers awarded the Yudh Seva Medal republic day, for killing a terrorist in a close battle last year. The Yudh Seva Medal is awarded for the highest degree of distinguished service in a war or conflict.
“Under his leadership, the narrative in Tral was changing. It is a matter of pride that we had an officer of such capability…even at such a senior rank, he chose to fight with the men,” said commanding officer Subrat Saha.
Col M N Rai was given the gallantry award, “Shaurya Chakra” for his cold courage, leadership and supreme sacrifice during this operation.
Col M N Rai was martyred in the operation but the exemplary courage and leadership skills displayed by Col Rai would always be remembered. Col M N Rai is survived by his wife Priyanka, daughters Alka & Richa and son Aditya.
At the funeral of Col M N Rai, his daughter Alka then 11 years old made his Regiment and the entire nation proud by bidding her father a farewell with the 9 Gurkha Regiment’s war cry, “’Tiger 9GR, ho ki hoina?” The tiger of 9 Gorkha Rifles, was he or not? The greatest of them all, was he or wasn’t he? “Ho, Ho, Ho!” “yes he was, he was, he was.”
Col Rai, who belonged to Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, was the youngest of three brothers. Rai’s eldest brother Lt Colonel D N Rai is also from the Gorkha Regiment, while his second brother Y N Rai is in the CRPF. The latter had suffered a bullet injury during the Raghunath temple operation in Jammu in November 2002. The family has a history of serving the country.
When Indian army eliminated Burhan Wani, the brave Alka donned her father’s uniform and saluted the jawans for avenging her father’s death.
While we are busy talking about the rights of these terrorists who have been killing innocent people in the name of religion, we forget the supreme sacrifices made by our Army men in order to keep us safe and secure. It is high time when we realize who the actual heroes are!
Dr Sindhu Prashanth