'He led from the front, even when he didn’t have to'

17 March 2008
The Indian Express
Manu Pubby

New Delhi: RahulKamath on way out as Govt gets Prasar Bharati Bill passedRaje Govt's success mantra education vouchers Defamation notice to Orissa Chief Secretary New Delhi, March 17 Three-Year-Old Sidharth does not understand the reason why his toys have been shifted out of the living room to make way for white sheets and incense sticks, or why his mother’s tears have been flowing all night. Tomorrow his father, Lt Col M S Kadam, would have turned 38. Instead, today evening, his body reached home. The officer laid down his life on Sunday personally leading an assault to bring down the most wanted militant in Jammu and Kashmir. As the officiating commanding officer of 22 Rashtriya Rifles, Kadam was not even supposed to lead an assault such as this. But, when he received information that Hafiz Nisar, the Lashkar-e-Toiba’s commander in Kashmir, was hiding in Rafiabad’s Chatloora village, Kadam could not sit back and watch. “He was leading from the front even when he was not required to. He was leading a joint team of security personnel when it happened,” says his brother in law, Gautam Chavan, as a steady stream of visitors trickle into their Shankar Vihar flat in New Delhi to pay condolences. The officer’s wife Captain Smita Kadam, an ex-Army dental officer, is still in a state of shock. She had talked to him on Sunday morning, just hours before he went on the operation to hunt down Nisar. Army officers and eyewitnesses say that on receiving “hard intelligence” about the militant’s hideout on Sunday afternoon, Kadam decided to personally lead the assault party to Chatloora village. The officer was heading one of the two assault columns when it came under heavy fire. Sepoy Pradeep Kumar, who was part of Kadam’s column, received fatal gunshot wounds in the first round of fire. The officer then ordered his troops to cordon off the area and led a small party to return fire. In the ensuing gunbattle at close quarters, Kadam shot down the Lashkar commander but received grievous bullet injuries. “He managed to shoot down the commander but got critically injured in the gunfight. The officer succumbed to his injures while he was being evacuated to a medical facility,” a senior Army officer said. The mortal remains of Kadam, who belongs to Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, were flown in to Delhi on Monday evening on a civilian flight. His family members will accompany the remains to his native village of Padve on Tuesday, where the cremation will be held with full military honours.