Colonel Magod Basappa Ravindranath (retd.), one of India's greatest war heroes and a soldier who was unflinching in his desire to safeguard the sovereignty of his nation against the nefarious designs of the Pakistani Army and their proxies during the Kargil war of 1999, passed away in Bengaluru on Sunday and was, heartbreakingly, forgotten by the country's political establishment.
His was a story that exemplified the mettle that so characterises India's security forces -- those brave souls who put their country before all else to ensure that the 1.25+ billion Indians are protected at all times from those who would do them harm.
Right from his early days as a student at the Sainik School in Bijapur, to completing his graduation (B.Sc.) at the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla near Pune, it seemed certain that Col Ravindranath would have a bright future in the Army. But maybe even he wouldn't have predicted the critical role he would go on to play in one of the most difficult and decisive battles to keep Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India.
Col Ravindranath's first posting was in Arunachal Pradesh, though he also served as an instructor at the military training school at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh. However, it was on the peaks of Jammu and Kashmir where he would go on to perform the acts of paramount bravery that would result in him being awarded a Vir Chakra in 1999.
Col Ravindranath served in India's northern-most state on four occasions -- 1986-86, 1989-90, 1994-96, and then once again in 1999.
During his final spell there, when the Pakistani Army and its proxies surreptitiously infiltrated Kashmir and lodged themselves in key strategic positions, as Commanding Officer of the 2 Rajputana Rifles, Col Ravindranath was at the forefront of operations to recapture the positions and territory that had fallen under the enemy's control.
Most detrimentally, during the Indian Army's Operation Vijay, Col Ravindranath was in charge of the assault to recapture Tololing point, a battle that is widely considered to be one of the toughest ever fought by the Indian Army. Lasting three weeks, decisive victory in the Battle of Tololing for the Indian security forces is said to have changed the overall course of the war. Had the position not been captured, Pakistani forces would have been able to cut off the only supply route to Kargil. The victory from a disadvantageous position came at a huge cost, however, as a number of Indian soldiers were martyred.
After retirement, Col Ravindranath lived in Bengaluru and became a director at Magod Laser, a family-run venture. He passed away on Sunday morning after reportedly suffering a heart attack while jogging at a park near his residence.
Tributes have poured in for a person who was a true Indian hero and to whom the citizens of the country owe a huge debt. Despite widespread calls for him to be accorded a state funeral with full honours, the Congress party in Karnataka turned a blind eye. However, while netas may have forgotten him, the Nation salutes him and his gallantry.
Rest in peace, Colonel Magod Basappa Ravindranath (retd.). The nation salutes you.