01 December 2008

Hero's farewell for Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan

Hero's farewell for Sandeep
DH News Service, Bangalore:

"Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan amar rahe, Sandeep Unnikrishnan zindabad."
These emphatically uttered words rent the air, as the mortal remains of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan of the National Security Guards (NSG) arrived at the officer's residence at Yelahanka here on Saturday morning.

Military honours
Before the body was cremated with full military honours at the Hebbal electric crematorium, thousands paid their last respects to the departed officer who valiantly laid down his life fighting terrorists inside the Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai on Friday. Among those who turned up were hundreds of uniformed school children, top military and police officers, besides Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa with some of his cabinet colleagues.Earlier, around 9 am, the body was taken to the residence from Air Command Hospital and was kept for public viewing for two hours.
Serpentine queues had started to form outside Unnikrishnan’s house since morning.Thousands of local residents, students, young and elderly men and women in hundreds waited for hours to file past the body draped in white.Most mourners bowed in respect, while many gave a military salute.
Mother inconsolable
Sandeep’s mother Dhan-alakshmi was inconsolable. She was reluctant to let go of the body.On her insistence, she was allowed to sit next to the body for a few minutes just before it was taken on the last journey.She kept on conversing with the body touching Sandeep’s head and face every now and then.She swooned as the Karnataka police band sounded the bugle after a police gun salute, marking the beginning of the march from their residence to the crematorium.Those who paid tributes included MP Ananth Kumar, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar, MLA Vishwanath, MLA Krishna Byre Gowda, KPCC working president D K Shivakumar, KPCC president R V Deshpande, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Director-General of Police Sri Kumar, Commissioner of Police Shankar Bidari and Joint Commissioner (Crime) Gopal B Hosur. In his condolence message, Yeddyurappa said: “I deeply mourn the death of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. He saved the life of many, including that of a Member of Parliament. He was a highly respected officer and laid down his life serving the country.” The government will think of giving suitable compensation to his family, Yeddyurappa told reporters.People lined up along the nearly five kilometre route to the crematorium from Unnikrishnan’s residence. The body was taken in an open arm truck which was followed by thousands of mourners. The military personnel extended him a guard of honour firing three rounds of shots in the air. Top army officials placed wreaths on the body of Sandeep. The Major’s father, Unnikrishnan, was given the military uniform of the slain officer. Unnikrishnan broke down as the armymen sounded the last post and the body was moved into the furnace after religious rituals. Unnikrishnan and a few military personnel were allowed inside the electric crematorium at Hebbal. “It was exactly 12:15 pm when the body was consigned to the flames,” Nataraj Dixit, a priest, who came to conduct the final rites told Deccan Herald.

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