Mumbai/Chennai: Maharashtra hero, the late Col. Santosh Mahadik's widow Swati Mahadik was on Saturday commissioned into the Indian Army as a Lieutenant, officials said.
As she completed her parade in Chennai on Saturday, Lt. Swati Mahadik broke down, and her family members and a senior army officer's wife consoled and hugged her and wiped the tears of joy.
Present on her proud moment were her two children -- daughter Kartikee, 12, and son Swaraj, seven, her mother-in-law Kalindi Ghorpade, her father Babanrao Shedge and her mother.
Col. Mahadik, who was Commanding Officer, 41 Rashtriya Rifles, was killed in a gunfight with terrorists in the jungles of Haji Naka area near the Line of Control in Kupwara district of Jammu & Kashmir in November 2015.
In his sacrifice, the expert paratrooper and a combat underwater diver saved the lives of many men under his charge. He was later posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra by the government.
Hailing from Pogarwadi village in the hilly Satara district of western Maharashtra, Lt. Mahadik fulfilled her dream of stepping into her late husband's shoes to serve the nation through the Indian Army.
A few months after Col. Mahadik's death, his widow stunned her family, villagers and the military establishment by announcing her intention to join the Army.
Swati had already crossed the upper age limit for entering the army and it was only after the Indian Army and Ministry of Defence specially relaxed the age limit for her that she could initiate her new career goals.
Later, she had told local mediapersons how she had silently resolved to join the Indian Army at the funeral of her slain husband in November 2015.
She sent both her children to boarding schools -- son Swaraj in Panchgani and daughter Kartikee in Dehradun -- and then appeared for the crucial Staff Selection Board (SSB) which she cleared.
After undergoing several rounds of other physical fitness and medical examinations as part of the five-tiered selection process, she was selected to join the Officers Training Academy in Chennai.
Swati successfully completed her OTA training and on Saturday she took part in the passing-out parade to join the Indian Army as a Lieutenant in the Army Ordnance Corps.
At the passing out parade, there was Lt. Nidhi Dubey, the widow of another soldier, the late Naik Mukesh Dubey, who joined the Indian Army along with Lt. Swati Mahadik.
Lt. Swati Mahadik is a graduate from Savitribai Phule Pune University, and is specially trained for children with learning disabilities and autism.
Welcoming two such gritty widows to the armed forces, the Indian Army said in a tweet: "SaluteThe Spirit. Lt. Swati Mahadik, wife of the late Col. Santosh Mahadik, who laid down his life for the country while fighting terrorists in J&K, and Lt. Nidhi Dubey, wife of Naik Mukesh Dubey."
"Both have strived hard to become officers today after their husbands passed away. Both of them have made all of us proud by completing the rigorous training and becoming an officer in the Indian Army."