RIP Colonel Santosh Babu: My son was too young to die, says father; mother heartbroken, but proud
"I lost my son, I cannot bear it. But he died for the country and that makes me happy and proud," Colonel Santosh Babu's mother Manjula said, while his father Upender recalled his promise to return...
NALGONDA: Telangana mourned the death of Colonel Bikkamalla Santosh Babu on Tuesday, who laid down his life along with two other fellow jawans fighting for his country against the Chinese on Monday night in faraway Galwan Valley on the Indo-China border.
His death stunned his ageing parents who could not come to grips with reality for a long time. It was his mother Manjula, who recovered first. She said she was heartbroken and happy at the same time.
"I lost my son, I cannot bear it. But he died for the country and that makes me happy and proud," she said after the news was conveyed to her by her daughter-in-law Santoshi on Tuesday afternoon.
"My son, daughter-in-law and their two children live in Delhi. The tragic news was conveyed to me by my daughter-in-law on Tuesday afternoon though the army officials informed her last night itself. She was afraid I might collapse if she broke the news immediately," Manjula said.
Colonel Santosh leaves behind his daughter Abhigna, nine, and son Anirudh, four.
His father Upender and mother both remembered how their son had promised to be with them in a month's time.
"My son had been transferred to Hyderabad but could not join us immediately because of the nationwide lockdown. He had told us that he would be with us soon. We too felt that happy as it meant being with him for three years. But we lost him. He was too young to die but what makes me proud is that he died fighting the enemy," Upender, a retired SBI manager, said.
Santosh Babu had a brilliant academic career as a student at the Korukonda Sainik School. He then trained at the National Defence Academy, Pune and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
He joined the Army in 2004 and his first posting was in Kashmir.
"He could not have become Colonel at the age of 37 if he had not been efficient. Normally it takes time for one to become colonel but in my son's case, it was quite early in December 2019," Upender said.
Santhosh Babu was in the 16th Bihar Battalion and one year ago he was deployed at the China border. His parents recalled his services to the nation.
"He killed three infiltrators in an army operation across the Indo-Pak border in 2007. Wherever he worked, he earned a name for himself as someone who is not only dependable but also very efficient," Upender said, recalling that in his son's 15 years of service, he worked in Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, and on the Pakistan and China borders.
His parents spoke to him last on Monday when he told them that clashes were going on between Chinese and Indian troops on the border.
"I was informed that my son and two other soldiers slipped and fell in the Valley. After some time other Army officers found them dead," Upender said, adding, "I, in fact, wanted to become a soldier. My dreams came true when my son joined the Army."
Meanwhile, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao mourned Santosh Babu's death and said he had rendered great service to the nation. The CM asked Energy Minister G Jagadeesh Reddy to be present as the government's representative till the last rites were performed.