Martyred in Handwara, Col Ashutosh Sharma had joined Army in 13th attempt

NEW DELHI: Unlucky thirteen became lucky for Colonel Ashutosh Sharma to join the Army after attempting it for six-and-a-half years as he had no other dream than donning the olive green uniform.

Col Sharma, who was among five security forces personnel killed during an encounter with terrorists in north Kashmir, is the second Commanding Officer of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles who lost his life while combating terrorism.

Remembering Col Sharma, his elder brother Piush says that he always used to have his way, come what may. “It was like my way or the highway for him. His only dream was Army and nothing else,” says Piush, who works for a pharmaceutical company in Jaipur.

“He had waged a war to join the Army some way or the other till he finally achieved success in his 13th attempt (in . From that day, there was no looking back for Ashu (Col Sharma),” Piush told PTI over phone.

Col Sharma joined the Army in the early 2000s.

Putting up a brave face while recollecting the childhood memories with his brother, who was three years younger to him, Piush recalled a conversation that he had with him on May 1.

“It was the Raising Day of Rashtriya Rifles and he informed us about how they had celebrated it amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I used to caution him many a times and he had fixed a standard reply ‘muje kuch nahi hoga, bhaiya’ (nothing will happen to me, brother)…,” he said, struggling to hold back his tears.

Col Sharma sent some pictures and that is the last memory that the family has, he said and added “wish I knew that I am speaking to him for the last time, I would not have ended the call at all.”

Holding on to Tamanna, daughter of Col Sharma who studies in class sixth, Piush feels that the child was not able to understand the changed realities.

“But I must say that she is a brave child of her brave father and she will be fine,” he said.

“The only regret Ashu had that he could not join Special Forces,” he said, while remembering his nature of going out of the way for his jawans and solving all their problems.

His friend Vijay Kumar, who is a Deputy Commandant in CISF, recalls memories with Col Sharma and said, “I advised him to look for other paramilitary forces but it was all Greek to him. It has to be only army and army and army was his reply always.”

“His mannerism was always at its best and I have never seen anyone raising any complaints against him when we used to live in Bulandshahr (Uttar Pradesh),” he said.

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