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July 3, 1999
The brave son of Andhra returns home
Shireen in Hyderabad
The body of Major Padmapani Acharya, who was killed while fighting Pakistani intruders in Kargil sector earlier this week, was brought to Hyderabad by a scheduled Indian Airlines flight this morning.
Andhra Pradesh Governor Dr C Rangarajan, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, his ministerial colleagues, leaders of opposition parties and top army and state government officials were present at Begumpet airport to receive the body.
The coffin was received with full military honours and placed at a specially laid podium for army personnel and other dignitaries to pay their respects. The governor, chief minister, Andhra sub-area commander, Brigadier M V Gangadharan, ministers, opposition leaders and others laid wreaths on the body. Over 500 defence personnel, representing the three wings -- the army, the navy and the air force -- saluted the valiant officer.
The Major's parents, his pregnant widow, two sisters and younger brother Captain Padmasambhav Acharya were also present at the airport. Captain Acharya who too is involved in the Kargil operations, was granted special permission to participate in his brother's funeral.
The body of the major was later taken on a flower-bedecked army truck to his house at Hastinapur on the city outskirts. It was kept there for some time to enable people to pay their respects. Portraits of the slain major and banners hailing his martyrdom were put up at vantage points on the way to the locality.
The mortal remains of the major were later taken in a procession to the Bolaram army burial grounds for cremation with full military and state honours.
The 31-year-old Major Padmapani Acharya of Rajputana Rifles fell to enemy artillery fire while fighting to recapture Point 4700 in the Kargil sector on June 28. He killed three enemy soldiers before giving up his life.
He had celebrated his birthday on June 21 at the battlefront and spoken to his 25-year-old wife Charulatha, who is seven months pregnant, the next day.
Padmapani Acharya's father, Jagannath Acharya, is a retired wing commander of the Indian Air Force who saw action in the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. The senior Acharya is presently working with the Defence Research and Development Laboratories at Hyderabad.
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