Twice Awarded Sena Medal for Gallantry, Who’s Col Ashutosh Sharma?

The Indian Army lost a commanding officer during counter-insurgency operations after a gap of five years.

1 min read
Col Ashutosh Sharma, the commanding officer of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles, who lost his life in Handwara, was a decorated army officer.

Commanding Officer of 21 Rashtriya Rifles unit, Col Ashutosh Sharma, and three Indian Army personnel, along with two soldiers and one Jammu and Kashmir policeman, were killed in an overnight encounter with terrorists in J&K’s Handwara.

A decorated officer, Col Sharma was the only commanding officer to receive the prestigious sena medal twice for gallantry during counter-terrorist operations, according to the army.

The officer’s patent unit is the 19th battalion of the Brigade of Guards, a mechanised infantry regiment, and he was on deputation with Rashtriya Rifles for counter-insurgency operations.

Army officials said Col Sharma was awarded a sena medal for shooting down a terrorist who approached his men with grenades hidden in his clothes.
It’s five years since the Indian Army lost a commanding officer or an officer of colonel-rank during counter-insurgency operations.

The last reported death of a commanding officer in combat was in November 2015. Col Santosh Mahadik lost life in a firefight. The Indian Army had lost another commanding officer when Col MN Rai was killed in combat in January 2015.

A resident of Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, Colonel Sharma is survived by his wife and 12-year-old daughter.

Army persons who lost their lives in the Handwara operation include Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh, and Lance Naik Dinesh. Two terrorists were also killed in the operation by the security forces in the remote location of Handwara.

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