In April last year, 32-year-old K Prasad Babu was gunned down by Naxalites on the Andhra Pradesh-Chhattisgarh border. On Sunday, his father received the Ashoka Chakra awarded to Babu from President Pranab Mukherjee at the 65th Republic Day. “I had always wanted to attend the R-Day parade but this is not how I dreamt I would attend,” Babu’s father K Venkata Ramana said.
Babu, a sub-inspector with anti-Naxal force Greyhounds in Andhra Pradesh, saw his family three days before his death. “He spent Ugadi (the Telugu New Year on April 11) with us. At that time we had no idea it would be the last time we saw him,” his elder sister, Kalavathi said.
His family members say they received news he was missing on April 18. “By April 19, we were told he was dead. We received his body on April 21,” Kalavathi said. Ever since, media has been thronging the family at Maturu, a small village in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh. “I don’t feel the pain so much… Sometimes I pretend my only son is not dead… that he is working somewhere and will come home on holidays. But then the media comes and asks questions, I feel the pain afresh,” his mother, Karanam Satyavathi said.
Babu is survived by his parents and two sisters. His family saw the Republic Day parade for the first time on Sunday. “The parade began and ended for us when the President handed me the Ashoka Chakra,” Ramana said. Ramana is a retired assistant sub-inspector and ventured out of the state for the first time in his life when he came to Delhi. “When I received the prize, PM Manmohan Singh told me something but I did not understand. The whole parade passed in a blur. This medal and his memories are all me and my wife will live for now,” Ramana said.
Babu was caught in cross-fire on April 16. The next day helicopters were deployed for evacuation and Naxal ranks began attacking the helicopter. Five commandos including Babu remained behind for retaliatory fire. Later, Babu urged four other commandos to retreat while he held off the Naxalites and died. Babu’s 16-year-old niece Greeshma mentions her uncle’s bravery has inspired her and her brother to seek a career in the IPS.