The first thing little Siddhant would have done on Tuesday would have been calling his father’s mobile in Kashmir to wish him Happy Birthday. But he will never make that call. An ironic twist of fate has severed forever that connection between the father and son.
Instead, Siddhant will now be lighting his father’s pyre at their native village Sarambal in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra on Tuesday. Siddhant and his mother Captain Smita Kadam, an ex-short service army officer, were enjoying the relaxed pace of Sunday when Lieutenant Colonel M.S. Kadam (37) was in a deadly firefight with Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) terrorists at a village near Sopore in Baramulla.
Kadam and his men belonging to 22 Rashtriya Rifles were on the trail of LeT’s J&K commander Hafiz Hamza alias Hafiz Hayder alias Hafiz Nasir, a prized but elusive target for the Indian Army. After writing a blazing script of gallantry, Kadam got Hafza but Siddhant lost his father.
Terrorists’ bullets also tore Sepoy Pradeep Kumar’s body in the same operation, aside from critically injuring four security personnel.
Smita received Kadam’s body, flown to New Delhi in a special air force plane on Monday. Even in her moment of grief, 36-year-old Smita epitomised the strength of a soldier’s wife. She told the Hindustan Times: “He is gone… but the sense of pride he has left us with will live and grow in our hearts forever. When Siddhant grows up, I will tell him about his father’s achievements.”
The ring tone of Smita’s cell phone, the hit track from Lage Raho Munnabhai — Pal pal pal pal har pal har pal, kaise katega pal har pal — might give off a sense of loneliness and isolation in her life, but she is determined to be strong for her son.
Siddhant will never wish his father again but he will definitely wish to become like him — a man of honour. Kadam was commissioned in the army (24 Punjab) in June 1991 and this was his second tenure with the Rashtriya Rifles. Gautam Chauhan, Smita’s brother said Kadam was a brave soldier who served the army well.