Thiruvananthapuram: A former Indian soldier who was badly injured during operations in Sri Lanka could be one among the many you may come across as you take a stroll along the streets at Kunnummel in Kilimanoor.
The ex-soldier, Thulasidharan, can well be called a mine man or an 'iron man' as he has been living with the leftovers of metal pieces that pierced his body after a mine blast 30 years ago. Though living a quiet life now, the metal shards still pain the 63-year-old resident of Amritha Nivas.
The mine was a 'gift' by Tamil Tigers to Naik J Thulasidharan and five colleagues from the Indian Peace-Keeping Force's 4 Para Regiment in 1988. He recalled that fateful day after he reached Sri Lanka's Jaffna in October 1987. The mine was "lying in wait" for them when they were travelling towards the LTTE arms training camp situated in the forest between Penneri Kulam and Akkarayan Kulam in August 1988.
Usually they drive at a speed to 60 kmph to escape bullets. That day Thulasidharan was behind the wheels. There were six people in the jeep. When he spotted a ditch, Thulasidharan slowed down. But that was a ploy by the LTTE ultras. The tyre went over the mine and it got detonated.
Metal fragments pierced the backbone of Surender Singh and the heads of Susail Lourd and Ramesh Singh who were with Thulasidharan. Surender Singh was paralysed waist down. The shrapnel tore into the body of Thulasidharan from head to toe on the right. Thulasidharan managed to drag himself out of the jeep and caught hold of a light machine gun and fired aimlessly.
On alerted, an Army team reached there and took them to a field ambulance. The metal fragments were removed from the body that night itself and he was shifted to the Army hospital in Pune. He had to spend three months in the hospital.
After retiring 18 years ago, Thulasidharan worked for 15 years as a security man at Thiruvananthapuram AG's office.