One might think there is very little to tell about Lt. Col. Niranjan, who was martyred in a bomb-defusing operation in Pathankot on Saturday. But this is to be expected given that he was a bashful and modest person, who died at 32 in the line of duty, doing what he was really passionate about.
Niranjanâ€™s body was brought to Bengaluru on Monday and taken to BEL Grounds, where he played cricket with his friends and cousins regularly. Hundreds of people including, visually challenged, politicians and defence chiefs turned up to offer their condolences.
Sanjay from IDL foundation for the blind said, â€śWe all do whatever is in our power to make a difference to our country. When I help someone, I know that my parents and friends are proud of me. But, willing to go to the extent of sacrificing oneâ€™s life to save millions of people from terrorism needs a brave heart and Lt. Col. Niranjan has made the whole country proud.â€ť
Besides visually challenged people, school students were also present to bid adieu to the brave soldier. Ankrithya, a ninth standard student at Vyasa International school said that while India has lost a soldier, Niranjanâ€™s death is something that must make us all realise the struggle armed forces go through. â€śThey must be remembered for their service they have rendered to the nation and should not be forgotten in a day or two,â€ť she said.
Rithwik, a member of the NCC and a student of KV Jalahalli said, â€śI joined the NCC with an intention to learn what it is really like to serve people. Having heard the story behind Lt. Col. Niranjan and stories of many other martyrs, it just makes my passion to join the armed forces stronger.â€ť
All of Niranjanâ€™s family members, who spoke to The News Minute, said that he was a shy and reserved person since childhood. Sheela Parasuram, his distant aunt hardly remembers any of his distinctive details.
â€śI have seen Niranjan very few times. The first time was when he was very young and then years later at his grandfatherâ€™s 80th birthday celebrations, he had grown up into a well-built person, soft-spoken and also had a look of a passionate Army person,â€ť Parasuram said.
Niranjanâ€™s youngest brother told The News Minute that because of the small age gap they grew up more as friends than brothers. â€śI still remember when he took the whole family to see the Republic Day parade at New Delhi,â€ť he said.
Niranjanâ€™s cousin, Rajesh V, who works with the Indian film industry, said, â€śApart from displaying obvious love for India during cricket matches, somewhere, young Niranjan was inspired by his elder brother, who joined the air force. He initially wanted to join the air force but was rejected as he had a minor eye problem that was eventually corrected.â€ť
â€śNone of the other family members are in the defence except for these two. Niranjan also joined the NCC in his school and college like may defence aspirants,â€ť he added.
Niranjanâ€™s friend Arun Kumar, who has known the martyr for more than two decades, said that be it school or college or even at the defence academy, Lt. Col. Niranjan had a small but close set of friends that he maintained.
â€śHe would spend most of his time with family but would not forget to meet a few of his friends before leaving. He would drop by my dental clinic, where we would have long conversations. We spoke last in December 2015 over the phone. We also had a lot of commonalities like we got married around the same time and have children of almost the same age, so we had similar topics to talk about,â€ť he claimed.
Lt. Col. Niranjan died in action during the mop-up and render-safe operations at the Pathankot air force base, when a blast riddled him with shrapnel. He leaves behind his wife and a 2-year-old daughter, who are settled in Bengaluru.
On Monday, the body was flown from Bengaluru to Palakkad, where the final rites will take place on Tuesday morning.