Jaipur-based Piyush Sharma remembers last year’s Holi when his younger brother Col Ashutosh Sharma gave him a surprise by visiting his house a day before the festival of colours.
“He came unannounced around 7.30 pm on the day holika is burnt and gave us a pleasant surprise. We had a blast the next day,” remembers the pharmaceutical professional settled in Jaipur for 16 years.
Col Sharma’s family – wife Pallavi and 12-year-old daughter Tamanna – arrived in Jaipur two and a half years ago when he was going for his second tenure of Rashtriya Rifles posting. The family lives in Rangoli Garden, a gated society in Vaishali Nagar. On Sunday, after she was informed about Col Sharma’s death, she and Tamanna went to Piyush Sharma’s house in Jaisinghpura on Ajmer Road. Col Sharma’s mother lives with her elder son; their father is no more.
Four Army personnel and a police sub-inspector died in a gun battle in Handwara in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Reports suggested that the Indian Army and the J&K police had launched a joint operation in Changimulla based on Intel that a few locals were being held hostage inside their home by terrorists.
The Army personnel have been identified as Colonel Sharma, commanding officer of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh and Lance Naik Dinesh and sub-inspector Shakeel Qazi of the J&K Police.
The Sharmas are originally from Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. “If there was no lockdown, we would have taken the body there for cremation. But in the present circumstances, it is not possible to travel with my 80-year-old mother. So we will perform the last rites in Jaipur,” Sharma said.
According to defence spokesperson Col Sombit Ghosh, the mortal remains are likely to be brought to Jaipur for a military ceremonial funeral on Monday.
“He was passionate about the Army,” remembers Col Sharma’s brother. “He was a brave soldier. He talked, dreamt and lived the Army. He took pride in sharing glory of his unit (19 Guards Mechanised Infantry) and its traditions,” Piyush Sharma, 47, said.
Col Sharma spoke to his family on May 1, the raising day of 21 RR. “He said the unit is unable to celebrate because of Covid-19. ‘We have only done a puja,’ he said.”
Piyush Sharma said it was a matter of great pride for the family that a member had sacrificed his life for the country.