Sunday, June 27, 2010

Final farewell to a braveheart

Colonel Neeraj Sood was killed in action in an encounter with terrorists on June 22 in Kupwara district of J&K. His final rites with full military honours were performed in Delhi on June 24.

One felt touched by the coverage given and the photograph of the tricolour-draped body of the late Colonel--with Army colleagues acting as pall-bearers--that appeared in The Times of India on June 25 ("Final farewell to a braveheart").

It was a fitting tribute paid by your newspaper to a gallant soldier who, like a true leader, led his troops from the front in operations, and laid down his life for his motherland and the security and honour of its citizens.

Even as we feel anguished about this untimely and sad demise, we offer our most heartfelt condolences to the next-of-kin of the martyred Colonel Neeraj Sood. May his soul rest in peace! May God give his family members, relations and friends enough strength to bear this irreparable loss!

Just a small request, Sir. Such news concerning the Armed Forces personnel should be included in the section "NATION" of the newspaper and accorded front-page prominence. If ordinary Toms, Dicks and Harrys can find a place on the first page of The Times of India why not our heroes who deserve to be honoured at all times. Let people across the length and breadth of India know what all sacrifices our brave soldiers and their families are making and what all trials and tribulations they are undergoing for the sake of their countrymen.
SC Kapoor
Wing Commander (retd)

Final farewell to a braveheart
Joel Joseph, TNN, Jun 25, 2010, 05.16am IST
NEW DELHI: When Priti learned about her husband Colonel Neeraj Sood’s death in an encounter with militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Tuesday, she displayed no emotion. Her family members pleaded with her to cry, but she showed a stoic resignation to her fate and went about arranging her husband’s cremation. But on Thursday, when Col Sood was cremated with full military honours in Delhi, the reality sank in.

When an officer asked whether Priti would like to place a wreath on her husband’s body, she begged everyone to let her hug him for one last time. Her family members prevented her from doing so, but the tri-colour was partially lifted for her to see her husband’s face. Gently, she caressed his face and touched his feet. She then clutched the national flag that draped her husband’s body close to her heart and cried.
‘‘I can’t let him go, I don’t want anything else. Just get him back for me. He said he’ll come back,” is what she kept saying as tears rolled down her cheeks. Their daughter, 11-year-old Mishika, sobbed silently close by.

The 39-year-old commanding officer of 18 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) was killed after he was shot in the head while carrying out counter-insurgency operations. ‘‘He was a dare-devil but kept a cool mind. He believed in leading from the front. We had many memorable moments together. He always outplayed us at sports,” said Lt Col Shailender Singh and Lt Col Uttam Dixit, who were his batchmates in NDA and IMA and had known him for 22 years.

Many retired and senior officers too came to pay their last tributes.” I was his instructor in NDA when he was a cadet in hunter squadron. He was full of life and excelled at sports,” said Col Rajneesh Handa.
A few of his friends from Ferozepur attended the cremation. ‘‘Yaar tha hamara, yaar chorh ke chala gaya. We became friends when he was posted in Ferozepur. I spoke to him on Saturday and told him we are planning to come to Srinagar for a vacation. He was very happy to hear that,’’ said Nitin Gupta, trying hard to control his tears.
Final farewell to a braveheart

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