Kin of Pune-based ex-Army officer killed in Gaza awaits return of remains

14 May,2024 07:37 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  mid-day online correspondent

Colonel Waibhav Kale, who hailed from Nagpur, had retired from the army three years ago and was keen on humanitarian mission work & thus joined UN.

Col (Retd) Waibhav Kale/ LinkedIn

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Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale (Retd), a former Indian army officer, was tragically killed while en route to a hospital in Gaza's Rafah region. Settled in Pune, Colonel Kale had recently joined the United Nations as a security service coordinator, just three weeks before the incident.

His brother-in-law, Wing Commander Prasant Karde (Retd), revealed that Colonel Kale's final rites will take place in Pune within two days after his body is transported via Cairo. Colonel Kale, who hailed from Nagpur and attended Somalwar High School there, had retired from the army three years ago and was keen on humanitarian mission work, prompting his decision to join the UN, reported PTI.

According to the report, travelling in a vehicle bearing the United Nations flag, Colonel Kale was fatally shot under fire. His colleague, also in the vehicle, sustained critical injuries and is currently receiving medical treatment.

"Waibhav left the army three years ago and had settled in Pune. He hailed from Nagpur and had studied at the Somalwar High School there. The former infantry officer decided to join the UN to pursue his career and also because he was keen on humanitarian mission work," said Col Waibhav's brother-in-law.

"While Waibhav succumbed to his bullet injuries, another officer who was with him in the vehicle is critical and undergoing treatment," Wing Commander Karde further said.

The process of repatriating Colonel Kale's body involves flying it from Cairo to either Mumbai or Pune, contingent upon flight availability. During his tenure in the Indian Army, Colonel Kale participated in a UN peacekeeping mission in Congo from 2009-10, which inspired his recent assignment with the UN, the news agency report added.

"While in the Indian Army, Col Kale had participated in a UN peacekeeping mission in Congo in 2009-10 on deputation, Wing Commander Karde said and added, "In fact, that stint was a motivation for undertaking the latest UN stint which proved fatal."

Per the PTI report, having served in various capacities during his military career spanning over two decades, Colonel Kale had been stationed in the northeast, Siachen Glacier, and Kashmir. He was commander of the 11 JAK Rifles in Kashmir and served in counter-terrorism operations.

"Waibhav who joined the army in 1998, had in his more than two decades-long career in the military, served in the north-east and also in the Siachen glacier. He was a former deputy commander of Rashtriya Rifles in Kashmir and was a part of counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism operations," Col Karade told PTI.

Colonel Kale is survived by his wife Amruta and two teenage children, Vedant and Radhika. His brother, Group Captain Vishal Kale, serves in the Indian Air Force, while his cousin, Colonel Amey Kale, is also a member of the army.

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