On Sunday, the Commanding Officer of the 21st Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, was killed in action during an encounter with militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Handwara.
It was the second time in two decades that the battalion lost a CO during counter-insurgency operations in the region. In 2000, the unit had lost its then CO, Colonel RS Chauhan, to a mine blast.
Colonel Sharma, was killed in the line of duty along with a Major, two jawans of the unit and a Assistant Sub Inspector of the J&K Police. Two terrorists were also killed in the same operation on Sunday.
In another similarity between the two officers, Col Sharma and Col Chauhan were both recipients of the Sena Medal.
On August 21, 2000 Col Chauhan was killed along with the Sector Commander, Brigadier BS Shergill, in an IED blast near Warpora village in Baramulla district of south Kashmir, not far from the battalion headquarters. A wireless operator travelling in the vehicle with the two officers was also killed. Brigadier Shergill had taken over command of the sector just three days before the blast and was on a familiarisation visit to areas under his command.