In a moving tribute to Colonel MN Rai, who was killed in a gunfight with militants in Kashmir on Tuesday, his 11-year-old daughter Alka saluted his mortal remains with a full-throated Gorkha salutation “ho ki hoina, ho ho ho,” implying was he the greatest or not, “yes he was, he was, he was.”
Rai, who was commissioned into the 2/9 Gorkha Rifles in September 1997, was honoured with the Yudh Seva Medal on the 66th Republic Day held on Monday, a day before he was martyred.
Army chief General Dalbir Singh placed a wreath on the mortal remains of the 39-year-old officer who was cremated at the Brar Square in Delhi cantonment with full military honours on Thursday.
The officer’s brother Colonel DN Rai, who is also from the Gorkha Rifles, lit his pyre. Rai hailed from Ghazipur in eastern UP and is survived by his wife, Priyanka Rai, two daughters Alka and Richa, 8, and a son, Adiyta, 6. His other sibling Y N Rai, a CRPF jawan, had suffered bullet injuries during an operation at Raghunath Temple in Jammu in 2002.
Col MN Rai was honoured for his professionalism and exemplary leadership. He was instrumental in elimination of four hardcore terrorists of the Hizbul Mujahideen, including their divisional commander, and apprehension of nine workers of the terrorist organisation.
On Tuesday, he received inputs about the presence of two local terrorists in the Tral area. Rai rushed to Handora village along with his quick reaction team. A joint operation was launched by his battalion, 44 Rashtriya Rifles, and the police. In the firefight that followed, Rai and head constable Sanjeev Singh received gunshot wounds and later succumbed to their injuries.