Service No : IC-58160L
Date of Birth : January 15, 1977
Place of birth : Satara Dist(Mah)
Service : Army
Last Rank : Colonel
Unit : 21 Para (SF)
Arm/Regt : The Parachute Regiment
Operation : CI & IS Ops
Awards : SC, SM
Martyrdom : November 17, 2015
Colonel Santosh Yashwant Mahadik was born on 15th January 1977 in Pogarwadi in the city of Satara in Maharashtra. Son of a dairy farmer, Shri Madhukar Ramchandra Ghorpade and Smt Kalinda, he grew up under the care of his maternal grandparents Shri Yashwant Bala Mahadik and Smt Babai Yashwant Mahadik, who lived with their daughter and son-in-law in the same house. He did his schooling from Class VI onwards in Sainik School Satara in Maharashtra. While studying in the Sainik School his inclination towards the Armed Forces grew and the foundation of his future military life was laid. He grew up to be a keen sportsman and was a champion boxer, goalkeeper, and runner. After completing his schooling, he joined Yashwantrao Chavan Institute of Science at Satara and cleared the entrance examination to IMA in July 1997. He joined IMA Dehradun as part of 103-Regular Course and passed out as a 2nd Lieutenant in December 1998 at the age of 21 years.
After passing out, he volunteered for the Para Special Forces and after grueling probation period, gained entry into 21 Para(SF) unit. 21 Para(SF) came into being on 01 Feb 1996 and was specialized in Jungle Warfare, Mountain Warfare and Counter Insurgency/Counter Terrorism operations. As an officer of the elite 21 Para-Special Forces unit, he led many successful operations against militants in their hideouts in Jammu and Kashmir and in the northeast. In the year 2001, he as a Captain was awarded his first gallantry award, "Sena Medal" for 'Operation Santo' in Lolab valley of Kashmir. After serving for few years, he got married to Ms Swati on 04 July 2003 and the couple was blessed with a daughter Kartikee and son Swaraj. In the Army, he got trained in various disciplines and became a very adept paratrooper and combat underwater diver too. During his service, he took part in various significant operations, which included Operation Vijay in Kargil, Operation Orchid in Arunachal Pradesh, Operation Rhino in Assam, Operation Rakshak in J&K and Operation Hifazat in Manipur. In the later part of his service career, in July 2013, Col Mahadik got posted to 41 RR unit as Second-in-Command and later took over as commanding officer of the unit in July 2014.
Kupwara Operation: 17 Nov 2015
During 2015, Col Santosh Mahadik as Commanding Officer of the 41 Rashtriya Rifles was engaged in anti-terrorist operations in the militancy infected Kupwara area of J & K. The 41 RR was deployed in the Kalaroos area and was also the garrison guard for Kupwara town. Under the operational command of the Trehgam-headquartered 68 Mountain Brigade, the battalion provided the security cover against the militants sneaking from across the border. Col Mahadik was a leader par excellence and always led from the front. On 13th November, he led an operation in the forests of Haji Naka in the Kupwara district near the Line of Control. The Kupwara operation was particularly challenging because of the inhospitable terrain, but Col Mahadik chose to personally lead his men in the operation.
It was believed that terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba were active in the region. For a week, the terrorists, who had crossed the border, had been hiding in the Manigah forest. On 17th November, another operation was launched led by Col Mahadik himself to foil the attempt of the terrorists to infiltrate. During the combing operation the suspected infiltrators were spotted and on being challenged they opened fire at the troops. A fierce gun battle ensued with heavy exchange of fire from both sides. During the operation Col Mahadik got shot in the chest and was critically injured. The injured Col Mahadik was carried down the hill by one of the soldiers to a place near the roadhead. Evacuation by air was not possible as Manigah area was located in a narrow valley. Gravely wounded, he was driven to 168 Military Hospital in Drugmulla, just off Sopore-Kupwara highway. From there he was airlifted to the Army's Base Hospital in Srinagar, but he succumbed to his injuries on the way. Col Mahadik was martyred but his bravery, indomitable spirit, and leadership were truly inspirational.
Besides being a brave soldier that he was, he was also an intellectual who wished more than anything to revive the natural beauty of Kupwara and revive tourism. He reconstructed old monuments and organized football and cricket matches to build bridges with the local community. He felt revival of tourism was the way, the youth could be given employment and diverted from radicalization. He sent the youth on tours to Jaipur’s Choki Dhani and Rishikesh to learn about village tourism and white-river rafting. He would personally counsel ex-militants and show them the path to a new life. From sessions on leadership for children to yoga camps and adventure tourism, Col Mahadik took the task of winning the hearts and minds of the people as earnestly as he took his field craft. He brought a perceptible change in public attitude towards the Army, during his tenure. Col SY Mahadik was a valiant soldier and an officer par excellence, who led from the front and laid down his life in the line of his duty following the highest traditions of the Indian Army. Col Santosh Yashwant Mahadik was given the gallantry award, “Shaurya Chakra” for his extraordinary courage, leadership and supreme sacrifice.
Col Santosh Yashwant Mahadik is survived by his father Shri Madhukar Ramchandra Ghorpade, mother Smt Kalinda, wife Smt Swati Mahadik, daughter Kartikee and son Swaraj. Later carrying forward the legacy of her husband, Smt Swati Mahadik joined the Indian Army and was commissioned as an officer (Now Capt Swati Mahadik) in the Army Ordnance Corps after she completed her training at the OTA in Chennai.