How many of you know about Lt. Col. Gaurav Solanki? I am sure very few are aware of him and his act of selflessness. Today we are going to know about an Officer of Indian Army, 12 PARA-SF. Lt. Col. Gaurav Solanki was a part of the UN Peacekeeping mission in Africa. He was an exceptional soldier, a true friend, and a family man for whom his country and colleagues came first before self. It has been a year since we lost him and we should take some time to read about him. Hope you will get to know about one more officer of our Armed Forces after reading this article.
Lt. Col. Gaurav Solanki graduated from the National Defence Academy in December 2002 and was commissioned into the Jat regiment around 2004. He later volunteered for the elite Special Forces. Solanki had been stationed as a military staff officer with the United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Congo. During that, on September 8, 2019, Solanki had gone for kayaking in Lake Kivu along with one of his colleagues. Meanwhile, the kayak overturned and they fell into the lake. Some soldiers along with the rescue team reached the point on time and they saved Solanki successfully as he was wearing a life jacket. But his team member was missing.
This was the moment when Lt. Col. Solanki realized that his colleague was in danger and needed help. He asked all the rescue members to search for the second officer who was missing. Being an excellent swimmer, Solanki took off his life jacket and dived too to search for a fellow officer who was missing. This was the reflex action and need of the situation, which forced Solanki to dive into the lake without thinking twice. He was trained to save his colleagues before himself as if all other officers are. Meanwhile, the rescue team later realized that the second officer swam across to the shore safely. However, when the rescue team reached the point, they realized that Lt. Col. Solanki was missing. No one really knew what has happened.
According to some sources, this particular lake, Kivu, unlike any other lake has some complex facts to know. This lake has strong underwater currents and also methane gas which can make anyone unconscious. A massive rescue operation was launched in the search of officer Solanki which involved helicopter and boats. But unfortunately four days later, on 12 September 2019, his body was retrieved and taken to New Delhi.
People who know him say that he was one of the most motivated officers that one could come across. Officer Solanki had also won Sena Medal (Gallantry) for his operations in Kupwara District, Jammu and Kashmir when he was posted with 4 Para. In his 15 years with the Indian Army, the 37-year-old had served for around 10 years in Kashmir. He also had postings in Manipur and Agra. He was an exceptional officer who always performed well in the field as well as academics. His tenure was about to over in a month’s time and he would have taken over as the commanding officer of the 12 Para.
Solanki was a task-oriented person who never really liked to discuss his achievements. At the family home in New Delhi, Solanki’s elder brother said, “He would never speak about his achievements and would quietly keep his medals and trophies in his study at our house. When we asked him what the medals were for, he would smile and change the topic. For him, the country was everything and he was always committed to the Army.” According to a former batchmate of Solanki, He was an absolute josh box. He was always full of energy and passion to serve the country. He had both his knees replaced around 2015, but he was back on track within six months. This shows his zeal towards his interests and duty.
Lt.Col. Solanki is survived by his wife and two children. The family last saw him in 2018, when he was posted in Agra. It must have been an extremely difficult time for them. Being a family of an Army Officer has never been easy. They have to face many challenges in endless forms. Solanki was a thorough Gentleman and was exactly the person with the kind of personality an Army Officer is expected to have. He will always be remembered for his bravery and service to the nation.
Note- The information provided in this article is available in the public domain and in no way, it releases classified information.