BANGALORE: “My wife was screaming and couldn’t control her pain. She was almost 10-months pregnant and holding on to me, when the message came. While I was speaking she had drifted to sleep. It was probably the toughest moment in my life. I did not wake her up. I had to leave her alone. But then she knew what my job was,” Naik Velu Satish, the 34-year-old braveheart from the ranks of Indian Army’s MEG & Centre (12 Engineer Regiment), spoke to Express in a mix of Tamil and broken English.
“Bombay Operation Pathi Ethuvum Kekkadeenga (Don’t ask anything about the Bombay Operation),” Satish, the 26/11 hero who was part of Op Black Tornado in Mumbai’s Nariman House, set the conditions straight, when he was cleared for a conditional interaction with Express.
Satish, a Keerthi Chakra recipient, was honoured during a Passing out Parade at MEG recently. His family could resemble a mini-battalion, with two of his brothers already in Army, with his late father, too, serving the nation.
At Nariman House on November 28, 2008, Satish was part of a small team from the 51 Special Action Group (SAG) of National Security Guard (NSG), who took control of the fourth floor. According to the Defence Investiture Ceremony (2009) citation records, it was Satish’s utter disregard for his personal safety that helped locate the terrorists under fierce firing.
He helped his Team Commander in creating an entry through the wall by planting improvised explosives.
“Immediately after the wall blasted, Satish jumped inside the room and killed a terrorist from close range. He lost one of his buddies in the operation (Hawildar Jittender Singh), but Satish’s stunning courage made all the difference,” Army sources said, referring to records.
Back in Delhi after the successful operation, Satish rushed his wife Sumitha to the hospital only to get a mouthful from the doctors as she was already in a very-advanced stage of pregnancy. “I am thankful to God for giving me twin sons. I strongly believe my buddies (Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan and Havildar Jittender Singh) are reborn in the form of my kids (Dinakar and Diwakar). I am hoping to get a posting to NSG again,” says Satish.
While his mother Savithri leads the proud soldier-sons at home, she is not happy at heart. “I am supposed to be a Veer Thai (brave mother) with three of my sons in the Army. In Tamil Nadu, if a mother sends more than two of her sons to Army, she is eligible for many benefits and I haven’t got anything. After Satish got the Keerthi Chakra, we received two cheques (`75,000 and `12,000) from TN government, but no land. Even the Karnataka government didn’t congratulate him despite Satish belonging to MEG,” Savithri told Express over phone from Unai Mottur village (Anaicut), in Vellore, Tamil Nadu.
None of his villagers, neighbours and teachers at Higher Secondary School in Anaicut know that it was their boy who did the brave deed in Mumbai.