The mortal remains of Colonel Bikkumalla Santosh Babu (37), the commanding officer (CO) of 16 Bihar Regiment, who was killed in hand-to-hand combat with Chinese troops in Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Monday night, were flown to Hyderabad on Wednesday morning.
A special aircraft carrying the Colonel’s body from New Delhi landed at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad, located on the outskirts of Hyderabad, at around 9.30am.
Santosh’s wife Santoshi, along with their two children – daughter Abhigna (9) and son Anirudh (4) – accompanied the body.
Cyberabad police commissioner, V C Sajjanar, along with Shamshabad deputy commissioner of police, N Prakash Reddy, and other police officers received the mortal remains.
Sajjanar expressed his grief and conveyed heartfelt condolences to the fallen braveheart’s family.
Santosh’s father B Upender, a retired manager of State Bank of India (SBI), could not come to the airport to receive the body, as doctors have advised him to take rest because he is suffering from low blood pressure, the commissioner said.
Later, the coffin, carrying Santosh’s mortal remains, was carried to his hometown Suryapet by a special vehicle.
Telangana energy minister G Jagadish Reddy, who also hails from Suryapet, arranged a special convoy of vehicles to bring the Colonel’s family to his native place.
Santosh’s body will be kept at his residence in Suryapet. The last rites would be performed with full military honours at his native village Kasarabad in the district on Thursday morning.
A pall of gloom has descended on Suryapet town, as people in large numbers, thronged Santosh’s residence to extend their condolences to the family. Many carried tricolour and raised slogans like: “Santosh amar rahe,” (Long live Santosh) and “we are proud of our hero.”
Police have put up barricades in Suryapet to ensure that the visitors would maintain social distancing because of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak. Hand sanitisers are in place and every visitor has been urged to undergo thermal screening in a bid to keep the viral outbreak at bay.
Officials are trying to ensure that only close family members of Santosh and dignitaries are allowed to visit his ancestral house, as it has been cordoned off for the general public.
His relatives, childhood friends, and acquaintances thronged to his residence and shared fond memories of the martyred soldier.
Minister Reddy is personally supervising the arrangements for his last rites in coordination with the Army officials. He met Colonel Santosh’s parents and offered is condolences. The Telangana government has assured the family all support in this hour of grief.
Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao expressed shock over the Colonel’s death and said his sacrifice for the country is invaluable. The CM conveyed his heartfelt condolences to Santosh’s parents, wife, and children, and other family members.