Here is a simple and compassionalte soldier, who was a leader and a true warrior. A man who did not hide behind bluster and cocky rhetoric, but led by example and died fighting for what he beleived in. Rare that a CO of the Army puts himself in harms way these days. That itself speaks volumes on this man’s character.
These are sad times indeed.
A silent salute to this brave son of the soil.
A Tribute to Col Vasanth
By Tulasi Srinivas- Narasimhan
The news item by Reuters on July 31 profoundly shocked me: “Six people, including a top Indian Army officer, was killed in the gun battle between troops and militants trying to sneak into Indian Kashmir from the Pakistani side,” an Army spokesman said.
The Army spokesman narrated how Colonel Vasanth Venugopal, commanding officer of 9 Maratha Light Infantry, along with reinforcements, rushed to the site to personally supervise the operation. Under his determined and resolute leadership, troops surrounded terrorists in a difficult and thickly-wooded forested area. Heavy fighting ensued in which Col Vasanth personally flushed out militants.
Displaying cool courage and operational acumen, Col Vasanth poised himself and his party to block the escape routes of entrapped militants. He died in the hospital of his wounds.
Col Vasanth was, in life, one of a very rare breed — a true idealist and a man of peace — who was proud to be an officer of the Indian Army. The obvious paradox did not seem to trouble him.
I first met Vasanth in 1993, when I married into his family. He was then a young officer, away often on the frontline and in military training, much to the dismay and worry of his young bride Subhashini.
Vasanth was no armchair idealist, no sit back scholar. He had read widely about military history and strategy and would take great care to analyse the inscrutable choices that armies had made in history. When he was on a holiday in Bangalore, he would attempt to solve the crossword puzzle everyday, help his daughter polish her shoes for school, read newspapers, and surf the web, thirsting to learn more and more.
His love for the Army and the honour it signified, was brought home to me in many ways. In 2003, the whole family, myself included, visited him in Belgaum.
Then a Major, when he came out of his room early in the morning dressed in his army uniform, shoes polished, medals blazing, he suddenly looked like a different man; confident, assured and in charge.
We teased him and he said in all seriousness; “It is the uniform of the Indian Army. When I put it on, it is a responsibility. The boys see me and expect me to behave as an officer”.
And now he is gone — shot to death by religious insurgents, who kill for an ideology. The cost of his fall will be known only by his wife, his parents and his daughters.
I have no doubt that Col Vasanth himself would probably have asked for no more fitting fall than with his men, defending his nation, but what do we make of such an end? What can we say, tongue tied with grief?
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Also read Prem Panickers article here in Rediff (http://specials.rediff.com/news/2008/jan/24resl1.htm). Prem Thank you! You have done a great service to us soldiers by writing this article.
My heartfelt condolences to Mrs Subhashini Vasant and her 2 lovely children. I salute your courage and your bravery during these hard times.