"Col Rai always led from the front in multiple operations that he carried out in 2014 and also in 2015. He combined bravery with compassion and people in Tral knew him very well for his several initiatives," General Officer Commanding of the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps Lt Gen Subrata Saha told reporters after the wreath laying ceremony at Badami Bagh Cantonment here.

"The supreme sacrifice of the brave men only strengthens our resolve to fight all elements inimical to security of Kashmir," he said as friends and colleagues recalled the contribution of Rai, one of the senior-most officers to be killed in last one year.

Rai, 39, commanding officer of 42 Rashtriya Rifles, and head constable Sanjeev Kumar Singh Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police were killed during the encounter in Tral in Pulawama district yesterday, in which two militants were also gunned down.

Saha said once the house where the militants were hiding was cordoned off, the father and brother of one of the terrorists approached Rai claiming that the ultra wanted to surrender. But even as Rai gave them an opportunity to do so, the militants came out of the house firing indiscriminately leading to the gunbattle.

READ: Senior Army officer, policeman killed in gunfight with Hizbul militants in Kashmir

The officer's swift actions prevented many civilian casualties during the operation, Saha said and noted that Rai had taken "a number of initiatives for the positive engagement of youth like organising cricket and football tournaments".

"Clearly under his leadership, we could say that the narrative in Tral was changing. He earned the admiration of all the administration for his meticulous planning and we have seen how Tral turned out to vote," Lt Gen Saha said.

Rai was conferred the Yudh Seva medal on the eve of Republic Day for outstanding contribution in planning and conduct of operations including a gun battle with militants in south Kashmir last year.

Saha said the security in Kashmir Valley was being ensured with a "colossal effort" by the army and added it was a collective responsibility of all the concerned agencies to keep the local youth away from militancy.

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