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Someshwar Rao who lost a leg in landmine blast will now represent India at Para Asian Games: His life is an example of how a soldier never gives up

Someshwar Rao started as a blade-runner but later switched to long jump, an event in which he will represent India in the Para Asian Games at Hangzhou later this year.

The soldiers stationed on borders and deployed in conflict zones face challenging and dangerous conditions. They work tirelessly to protect their country from external threats, often far away from their families and homes. As civilians, we enjoy the comfort and security of our homes, largely due to the dedicated efforts of the men and women who serve in the military.

Their commitment to duty, even in the face of adversity, is commendable and worthy of our utmost respect and gratitude. The resilience and determination of soldiers are remarkable qualities that are often exemplified throughout their service and even beyond. The heartwrenching story of one such brave Indian soldier, Someshwar Rao, is a testament to the indomitable spirit of soldiers who face adversity head-on, refusing to give up in the pursuit of their dreams and service to their country.

Someswara Rao, who hailed from a family with a long history of military service, joined the army way back in 2011. He was appointed to the 11 Madras Regiment. He was drafted into the Ghatak Platoon, a reputed unit made up of the country’s finest soldiers.

As a member of the engineering corps, Someshwar was involved in critical tasks, including detecting and defusing landmines to ensure the safety of his fellow soldiers and civilians in border regions. His dedication and skills in this dangerous field earned him the respect and admiration of his comrades.

On one fateful day in 2013, his life changed completely. While on a mission in the Uri region in Jammu and Kashmir, a tragedy struck him. As Someshwar was cautiously navigating an area suspected of having landmines, he inadvertently stepped on a concealed mine. The explosion was devastating, and Someshwar was gravely injured. His left leg was severely damaged, and despite the prompt medical attention he received, it was necessary to amputate the limb to save his life.

In an interview with the Indian Express, Someashwar Rao narrated what transpired to him. “A landmine had gone off in a trench in Uri the previous night. We went there to inspect and since it was pitch dark we had light flares…. That night nothing happened. But the next morning, while we were going back to the trench, I stepped on a landmine.” Rao said.

“That’s a path we had taken so many times but that day it wasn’t the same,” he added.

Someshwar recalled how at that moment, his world seemed to shatter. The pain of his physical injuries was nothing compared to the emotional toll he felt. He questioned why fate had dealt him such a harsh blow, robbing him of his ability to walk and continue his service in the same way.

Despite undergoing treatment, he was unable to deal with the fact that he has lost one leg. Someshwar Rao, in that one moment of weakness, decided to end his life. He picked up a blade and went to the bathroom, but at that instance, he received a phone call which forced him to change his decision.

“It’s because my mom called me that day that I am sitting here and talking to you today. When I heard my mom’s voice, I started weeping and then just fell unconscious. For the next 10 days, I was in and out of the ICU,” the 33-year-old Rao told The Indian Express.

Someshwar Rao had a life-changing encounter

Rao made a commitment to himself that he would never consider taking such drastic steps again but the amputation brought back painful memories. He was recovering from the traumatic experience, but still, the thought of losing his leg continued to haunt him. That was when he got a chance to meet Lt Colonel Gaurav Dutta, who gave him a new lease on life. Dutta was an army para-athlete and Rao met him at the Artificial Limb Centre in Pune.

In the darkest hours of his struggle, Someshwar found an inner strength and resilience that he had never known before. He refused to let his disability define him, and with unwavering determination, he decided to embrace his new reality and make the best of it.

Supported by his family, friends, and fellow soldiers, Someshwar began his rehabilitation journey. He underwent extensive physical therapy and adapted to using a prosthetic limb.

Inspired by Lt Colonel Gaurav Dutta, Someshwar Rao decided to pursue track and field sports. In order to support the training of para-athletes within the Indian Army, Dutta formed the Army’s Paralympics Node (APN) in 2017. Rao soon started his training and spent a lot of time developing his abilities. His efforts paid off as he went on to compete in International Grand Prix competitions and win multiple medals while representing his country as a para-athlete.

Someswara Rao representing the country in track and field (Source: Insidesport)

Rao had finished fourth in the men’s 400m T64 race in Indonesia’s 2018 Asian Para Games. At the 2017 World Para Athletics Grand Prix in China, Ramudri Someshwara Rao bagged the gold in the 200 m T44 event.

Image source: ANI

Later, he changed his focus to long jumping in which he also brought fame to the country. At the Dubai 2022 World Para Athletics Grand Prix, Someshwar Rao bagged a gold medal for India after he took a leap of 6.40m in the finals. Overall, the Indian contingent won six medals on the day and set two Asian records.

Someswara Rao in action at Dubai 2022 Grand Prix

Speaking after the event, Rao said, “This is my international gold medal in the long jump. And I am very happy. But during my training in India, I have attained more distance. I will try to improve and do well in the upcoming Asian Para Games.”

This year, eight trainees from Army’s Paralympics Node (APN), including Rao, will compete for India in the October 22–28 Para Asian Games.

The jumpers will include Rao, Solai Raj, and Unni Renu, while Jasbir Singh and Ajay Kumar will compete in the 400-meter race. Virender, Hokato Sema, and Soman Rana will compete in the shot put competition.

The trials were held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday, July 25.

Despite losing a limb, Someshwar’s military career did not come to an end. Instead, he found new approaches to help the army. He, in fact, emerged as an advocate for his fellow soldiers suffering from disabilities.

The lessons he learnt along the way and the journey he embarked on touched people’s hearts all around the country. He received the highest civilian honour for courage from the government for his bravery and sacrifice.

The life of Someshwar Rao is a testament to the unwavering spirit of soldiers who don’t give up in the face of hardship while pursuing their goals and serving their country. His legacy continues to inspire generations and serves as a constant reminder that true bravery is rooted not just in physical skill but also in the resilience of the human spirit.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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