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'I don't regret Sandeep joining NSG'

'I don't regret Sandeep joining NSG'

Author: Anubha Sawhney Joshi
Publication: The Times of India
Date: November 28, 2009

His father believed he would have made a successful IT professional. For his mother, he was the best son ever. But since the age of 13, Sandeep Unnikrishnan was sure he wanted to serve the country. And he did, making the ultimate sacrifice on 26/11.

"I don't regret allowing him to join,'' says father K Unnikrishnan. The parents of the braveheart are in the city to commemorate the first death anniversary of the 31-year-old NSG major.

Life has dealt a cruel blow to the Unnikrishnans. While they have gained recognition many times over the past year as the parents of a hero, they have lost their only child. "In his lifetime, I never fasted for Sandeep,'' says his mother. "He was always good at everything-sports, studies, activities, one never needed to specially pray for him. But today, we're both fasting.'' On Friday afternoon, the Unnikrishnans met a Taj guest whose life was saved by Sandeep. "He said Sandeep was calm and reassuring,'' said the father. "He offered the guest an apple and a bottle of water before escorting him to safety. That's my son, always ready with a smile and a kind word.''

An officer and a gentleman, Sandeep was popular with everyone. But his favourite person was undoubtedly his mother. "I was almost jealous of the special bond these two shared,'' says Sandeep's father. The indulgent son worried about the arthritis his mother suffered from in her hand. "Sandeep would chide me for not helping my wife with the house work,'' adds the father.

Tears have been part of almost every day since the Unnikrishnans heard of Sandeep's death. "More than our personal loss, it is the kindness of total strangers that has moved us to tears,'' says the father. What about the insensitive attitude of the authorities? "I expected more from the NSG which sent Sandeep out on his last mission.'' The NSG memorial in Manesar misspelt the martyr's name. And the alphabets were falling to the ground. "My wife and I picked up the crumbling letters. I am told the problem has been rectified now.''

Sandeep spoke of death nonchalantly, almost as if preparing his parents for any eventuality. "He would say every bullet has a name written on it. But when I meet my end, there will be thousands of people with you mummy,'' recounts his mother.

On a trip to the NDA in Khadakwalsa, Sandeep showed his parents the place where martyrs' names were engraved. "Tomorrow my name could be here,'' he told them. "We shuddered at the thought but never imagined it would come true.'' On Friday, Major Sandeep's parents came to find peace at the place where their son breathed his last. But real closure is a long way off.


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