Col Bikumalla Santosh Babu
’s father B Upendar was visibly shaken, but still refused to give up his stoic demeanour when he heard the news of his son’s death on Tuesday.
“I was always aware that one day I could hear what I heard today, and I was mentally prepared for it. Everyone dies but it is a privilege to die for the country and I am proud of my son,” the retired banker told TOI, while proudly mentioning that Col Santosh had fought terrorists in
during his 15-year career and received a commendation from the
Upendar said it was he who encouraged his son to join the army and knew the dangers involved. The young boy joined Sainik School, Korukunda in
Pradesh and after that he was totally committed to a life in uniform.
Col Santosh’s last words keep ringing in Upendar’s. “You should not ask me that,” he had told his worried parents when they enquired for details about the border skirmishes during a brief call on June 14. “I am not supposed to tell you anything. We can talk when I am back with you.” He died the following night.
The officer had told his parents that there was a “big gulf” between the reality on the ground and what they were hearing from news channels. “Little did we know that it would be his last call to us. Everyone has to die. But dying for the country is a big thing and we are proud of our son,” Upendar, 62, who retired as chief manager in SBI, told TOI.
“I wanted to join the force but could not. So, when my son was 10 years old, I put it in his mind about serving the country by donning the uniform,” Upender said. The young boy studied at Sainik School from class VI to XII. He then got into NDA, then IMA and served in many sensitive postings, including in
Col Santosh’s parents, Upendar and mother Manjula, live in Telangana’s Suryapet town. His wife Santoshi lives in Delhi with their daughter aged 8 and son aged 3. Santoshi was the first to be informed about the death.
“In 15 years, my son got four promotions. As a father, I was hoping he would reach higher positions. I was aware of how uncertain life can be in the army, so we are only satisfied that he made the supreme sacrifice for the country,” Upender said.
The body of Col Santosh is expected to reach Shamshabad airport on Wednesday and taken by road to Suryapet for the last rites.
Manjula was eagerly looking forward to meeting Col Santosh. She said her son had asked for a transfer to Hyderabad which would have brought him close to the family. “I am happy that he gave his life for the country but as a mother I am sad. I have lost my only son,” she said.
“For his education his father took a transfer to a place near Korukonda. Just before the lockdown he was with his family in Delhi on leave. Due to the lockdown, his leave got extended and about a month ago he reported back to duty near Leh,” Manjula said.