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Coonoor crash: Thousands attend last rites of Lance Naik Sai Teja in Chittoor

The Andhra Pradesh government had earlier announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh for the family.

By: Express News Service | Hyderabad |
Updated: December 12, 2021 4:44:17 pm
The soldier’s body was received with full military honours at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru. (Express Photo)

Thousands attended the last rites of Lance Naik B Sai Teja (27) in his native village of Regadapalle in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday. He was among the 13 people, including Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, who died in a helicopter crash on Wednesday near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu. The soldier’s mortal remains had reached Chittoor earlier in the day.

While the entire village of Regadapalle turned up for the funeral, thousands more from nearby villages and towns arrived at the ground where the soldier’s last rites were performed by his father and brother who carried Sai’s five-year-old son. His father B Mohan was inconsolable, while Sai’s wife Syamala collapsed on seeing the coffin.

Earlier, dozens of military and police personnel accompanied the soldier’s coffin as it was taken through Maddanpalle to the native village. Hundreds of students and people, many in tears, gathered on the roadside holding the national flag, and sprinkled flowers as the vehicle passed.

On Saturday, the soldier’s body was received with full military honours at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru. A final send-off and military honour was accorded to him at the Command Hospital on Sunday by the Parachute Regiment Training Centre. On behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command; General Officer Commanding, Dakshin Bharath Area; General Officer Commanding, Karnataka and Kerala Sub Area laid wreaths and the convoy, under the command of Col Shekar Attri of Parachute Regiment Training Centre, Bengaluru moved to Chittoor at 5.30 am.

The Andhra Pradesh government had earlier announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh for the family. Panchayat Raj Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy and Excise Minister K Narayana Swami visited the family and extended their condolences. A cheque of Rs 50 lakh was handed over to the family members on behalf of the state government. Reddy said the family has requested a government job for Sai Teja’s wife and added that the matter would be brought to the notice of the chief minister.

While the entire village of Regadapalle turned up for the funeral, thousands more from nearby villages and towns arrived at the ground where the soldier’s last rites were performed. (Express Photo)

B Sai Teja was born in 1994 to a humble family at Kurabal Kota in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district, according to the Defence Ministry. Right from his younger days, he had been highly interested in joining the Army, which he finally did in June 2013 as a soldier in the Army Service Corps. Following basic military training, Sai Teja completed an Advanced Physical Training course from AIPT, Pune and was absorbed as a PT instructor.

After working with the Army Service Corps, Sai Teja decided to fulfil his dream of serving in the Parachute Regiment and opted for the elite special forces unit. Following completion of the gruelling training-cum-selection procedure, he adorned the maroon beret and Balidan Badge in May 2019. He was exposed to active counter insurgency areas in Manipur and Assam where he performed to the best of his capabilities. His will to defeat all odds in the extreme high-altitude areas of Arunachal Pradesh with his team during Operation Snow Leopard was commendable. It wasn’t long before Sai Teja proved to be an asset for 11 Para Special Forces.

A final send-off and military honour was accorded to him at the Command Hospital on Sunday by the Parachute Regiment Training Centre. (Express Photo)

Acknowledging his motivation, grit and determination, superior officers recommended him as PSO to the CDS and he assumed the responsibility in August last year. Within a short period of time, he aced all tests and was chosen to accompany CDS Gen Bipin Rawat to Wellington. As his peers would say, the soldier was always cheerful and his vibrant enthusiasm was contagious.

Sai Teja is survived by wife B Shyamala and children Mokshagna and B Dharshni.

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