His body was wrapped in a tricolor. A martyr he was. A brave soldier with a soft heart. A father of two teenage daughters and a 7 year old son, with a caring wife. Three days ago the family was flying high when Colonel Munindra Nath Rai was awarded a Republic Day Gallantry Medal - Yudh Seva medal (YSM).
Two days ago, he was standing in front of a house in a village in Tribal area of South Kashmir, with two hardcore terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen trapped inside. And the end game began to unfold in a very dramatic manner.
As if, a scene from film Haidar was being reenacted...in real. Since a battle was on, Commanding Officer of the unit, Colonel Rai was not only present there but leading from the front. A buddy and a J&K police constable was assisting him in the nerve breaking operation. The prize catch was inside, with all escape routes sealed perfectly.
As the order to storm the house was to be given a yelling voice shattered the uneasy calm ..... ''Please don't kill my son...'' an old man with folded hands approached the officer. ''I will convince my son to surrender". Father of the trapped terrorist was on his knees. Colonel Rai was faced with a very hard choice. To kill the militants or listen to the voice of a sobbing father?
The Colonel had earned a reputation of a brave officer having soft corners in his heart. Some months ago when entire Kashmir Valley submerged in flash floods, he was a man in full action. He saved hundreds of lives. And he was the one who had sent a group of 50 apple-growers sometime back from the Valley to Shimla to learn the tricks of the trade so that they can earn more profit.
It was biting cold out there and the Colonel's finger was placed on an icy trigger. He had to decide fast, either way - to storm the house or allow the father to go inside to make last attempt to convince his terrorist son to surrender.
And the Commanding officer opted for the latter. Colonel Rai ordered not to fire. Everything came to a standstill. Soldiers involved in the operation stopped crawling around the house. It must have been a very tense moment.
The father went inside the house. Nothing happened in next couple of minutes. Each passing moment was becoming tense for Colonel Rai, who was hoping that the old man will come out with his terrorist son. And suddenly the door flung open.
A blaze of fire started. Two hardcore terrorists were raining the bullets. Terrorists killed Colonel Rai, his buddy and the policeman before being gunned down by the troops.
Was he right when Colonel Rai decided to give the father a chance to go in and convince his son to surrender?
''Yes,'' said Colonel Rohan Anand, spokesperson of the Army, who narrated the entire sequence of the encounter.
''He wanted to give a chance to insaniyat (humanity)'' he said. Colonel Anand said, ''Colonel Rai's WhatsApp status sums up the mission of his life".
It says: "Play Your Life Role With Honesty.....!!" (Play your role in life with such dedication that people applaud you even after your death)"