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Lt. Swati Mahadik – The Lioness of India

Shailesh Kumar, National Defence,
New Delhi, 10 September 2017

Here is a love story of a martyr’s wife, who does not limit herself to be confined to the label of war widow. Instead, she broke the shackles of emotions to make every India proud of her love – love she has fallen in with the fallen hero – Santosh Mahadik, Amar Shaheed Col Santosh Mahadik. Col Santosh Mahadik loved his country the most. And Swati Mahadik loved him the most. To continue this eternal love even after the death of her husband, this brave mother of 12 year daughter and 7 year old son decided to join India Army at the age of 37 years. Now she dons the Uniform her husband Col Santosh Mahadik died for. At OTA, she is commissioned as lieutenant in India Army.

Swati Mahadik, a frail look woman shown the courage of her conviction.. Instead of playing victim, she decided to be a heroin like her husband. Colonel Santosh Mahadik was an officer from the elite 21 Para-Special Forces unit, had led several successful special operations against militants and their hideouts both in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-East for over a decade.  He was awarded a Sena Medal for gallantry during Operation Rhino in the North-East in 2003. Like real heros he did not rest on his laurels even after becoming a Colonel. He specially volunteered to command a battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), the Army’s specialized counter-insurgency force in J&K.

Col Mahadik, on 17 November 2015, was once again leading his troops from 41 Rashtriya Rifles in a cat-and-mouse chase against heavily-armed militants. The militants had infiltrated across the Line of Control a few days ago, in the Manigah forests near Kupwara in North Kashmir. Over the last two days, three `contacts’ had been established with this group of terrorists in the inhospitable terrain…but they managed to evade the dragnet.

The 41 RR is deployed in the Kalaroos area and is also the garrison guard for Kupwara town. Under the operational command of the Trehgam-headquartered 68 Mountain Brigade, the battalion provides teeth to the ‘reception area’, where militants who have sneaked past the LoC fence get a ‘hot blast’ from the Army as they try and run down to the Valley’s plains.

At around 2 pm on the fateful day, Col Mahadik and his troops were once again combing the area when the terrorists opened heavy fire on them, and then fled deeper into the forest. “Col Mahadik was hit on the head…he was evacuated to the Durgmulla military hospital but succumbed despite medical intervention. Col Santosh Mahadik died a martyr’s death but before he saw the Indian flag unfurling before his dying eyes. Mahadik gave up his life but saved his soldiers’. He was later posthumously awarded Shaurya Chakra by Government of India.

Col Mahadik was the son of the soil. He was born in small Pogarwadi village in Satara. His father was a tailor and brother, a milkman. Mahadik was adopted by his aunt with whom he lived in the Godoli area of the same district. Mahadik set the foundation to his journey of becoming an army man when he joined the Sainik school in 6th standard, in the year 1987. Colonel Mahadik was commissioned into Indian Army in 1998. A paratrooper, combat underwater diver, a horse rider and a passionate boxer, Col Mahadik was an all rounder. He even trained Indian Cricket team captain MS Dhoni for paragliding in August months before he died.

Col Mahadik was more than a daring soldier, who led from the front. He worked hard to revive tourism in Kupwara, whose fabled beauty has been eclipsed by violence. He felt this way the youth could be given employment and diverted from radicalisation. He sent the youth on tours to Jaipur’s Choki Dhani and Rishikesh to learn about village tourism and white-river rafting. He would personally counsel ex-militants and show them the path to a new life. He wanted to engage with that village community in a constructive way. He wanted a tulip nursery to set up in Kularoos. So valley can bloom. He was a humble man, whom people could approach easily. In some ways he was more of an intellectual than a soldier. In his last video he was seen playing with his son.

Six months after the death of martyr Santosh Mahadik, his 35-year old wife has geared up and has cleared all five days of Services Selection Board examination. She was given special age exemption by the then Minister of Defence, Manohar Parrikar on the recommendation of Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh. Swati underwent what is called as one of the toughest and grueling military training in the world. She completed her training successfully and passed out OTA, and commissioned as lieutenant as an officer in the Army Ordnance Corps. Salute to Lieutenant Swati Mahadik. Million salutes to amar shaheed colonel Mahadik. Jai Hind!

Note: Story is based on published inputs. References cited in YouTube description. Click here!

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