In an exclusive interview with The Daily Guardian, Pallavi Sharma, wife of Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, recalls the supreme sacrifice of her husband at the Handwara encounter in Jammu and Kashmir.
Q. What was the last communication he had with you? Did he tell you that he was going for an operation against terrorists?
A: It was on 1 May that I had a talk with Ashutosh to congratulate him on the eve of 26th Raising Day of 21 RR Battalion of which he was a commanding officer. It was a casual talk and as he was busy, he said would speak later. Thereafter we had exchange of messages but he did not mention that he was going for an operation.
Q. Colonel Ashutosh had an amazing leadership quality. He used to lead from the front.
A. He always led from front. He always used to tell me that the safety of his jawans is of prime importance to him, whereas there are 1,200 jawans to keep him safe. Ashu was very passionate about his battalion and his jawans.
Q. There are rumours that he gave a call on some other number but someone else picked up the phone.
A. I am not aware about any call from him but WhatsApp message was delivered to him which I wrote last one and which was not read by him.
Q. What was the last message, if it is not personal?
A. There were two messages that I made. My first message was whether he had taken his lunch. The second message was about the news alert on the Handwara operation.
Q. When did he last come to Jaipur and what did you say before leaving Jaipur?
A. Ashu came to Jaipur during Holi for 10 days. While going back to his command, he said that he would come for a long holiday once the operation is over. And that exactly had happened. Waisa hi hua. He came home after the operation but wrapped in tricolour.
Q. You have an 11-year-old daughter. What did he promise to her? What was the last communication he had with your daughter?
A. He promised my daughter that when he would come home he would take her to the market and buy a bicycle. I will fulfil his dream and buy her a cycle.
Q. What should India do to Pakistan for such a dastardly act?
A. I would request the government the act in the same way it did after Pulwama. I think the government should think the same way; it should enter Pakistan and teach them the lesson that they might not have even dreamt of. I hope that the situation I am in now should not be faced by any other spouse of defence personnel.
Q. Colonel Ashu – tosh was a brave soldier. What would he share with you after the completion of an operation?
A: After the successful completion of an operation he would first call me and say that with his team he could save the reputation of his uniform. Ashu was known for his courage and valour. He was never scared of anything.
Q. Did he ever tell you about any operation he would be leaving for?
A. He never used to share any input about his operations.
Q. What was your feeling when you saw that your WhatsApp message was unread for quite a long time?
A. Initially felt that he was busy. Always busy, he always used to answer as per his convenience.
Q. When did you know that your husband fought bravely and was no more?
A. I came to know around 9 am when the Army informed me that Ashu was no more.
Q. Any unfulfilled dream of the late Colonel? And how would you fulfil it?
A. Ashu’s courage and valour were like a tiger and I will leave no stone unturned to fulfil his dreams by keeping a smile on my face to keep the morale up and high. Jai Hind!