Young, gritty officer who led from front (1983 – 2010)

Born in Bidhlan village of Sonepat district in Haryana, Deepak Sharma was the only son of Indu and Naresh Kumar Sharma. His grandfather had taken part in World War II, and Deepak had grown up listening to his stories of valour. These stories inspired him to join the army.

Deepak passed his senior secondary education from Shiksha Bharti School, Rohtak, and later obtained a Bachelor of Technology degree from Maharishi Dayanand University. During his final semester, he was offered a well-paid job in an upscale corporate house but for his love for the Army, he declined the offer. He told his father that he wanted to join the Army where he will get salutes, and will get an opportunity to render service to the nation. His father felt proud of his son.   

He joined the Officer’s Training Academy, Chennai, and was commissioned into the SIGNALS on September 16, 2006. In March 2008, Deepak, as a young Captain, was sent on a two-year attachment with 42 Rashtriya Rifles (Assam) operating in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. During his short leave in January 2010, Deepak got engaged to a serving lady officer from the Signal Regiment itself at a simple ceremony, and the marriage was scheduled sometime in June the same year. His friend Amardeep Malik recalls that he was thrilled about it. But no one knew he had a different kind of date with fate three months before that. 

Pulwama district, located between the Pir Panjal Range and the Greater Himalayas, though geographically not close to the Line of Control (LoC) in the west, has the dubious distinction of being one of the hotbeds of militancy in the Kashmir valley. Due to a false notion of being alienated by the state, Kashmiri youths had covertly been assisting militants from Pakistan.

In March 2010, a group from Hizbul Mujahedeen group was reported to be hiding in a house in village Dadsara in Pulwama district. The house was in a densely populated area and there was a mosque nearby. The security forces had to be careful in order not to create ill will amongst the local population. On 4 March 2010, Capt. Deepak Sharma and his troops were ordered to clear the house.

Deepak realised that the situation was sensitive and did not use heavy fire. He tossed a few grenades into the house and entered through a window along with his companion. He encountered one terrorist hidden in the first room that he entered. He fired at him at point blank range and killed him. Unmindful of the heavy fire at him, he crawled over to the next room and spotted two militants under a staircase. He did not care for his own safety and attacked them. He killed both of them in the fire fight, but unfortunately suffered a bullet injury in his own neck. He later succumbed to the wound. He displayed exemplary courage, leadership and determination. He gave his life to serve our motherland by killing three terrorists on the spot. He was deeply committed to his work.

His mother was inconsolable and said that her son was too young to die. He never told his parents that he was working under dangerous conditions. He was committed to his duty. The last time, his father spoke to him, he had said that he was busy in an operation and did not mention that the location was Kashmir. The gun battle had lasted 30 hours and had claimed the lives of four militants, and one captain. Soon after the encounter a search operation was launched to trace the remaining militants. It had to be suspended due to darkness and resumed again when security forces were fired upon. The area was cleared of militants.

Deepak`s body was flown to New Delhi and taken on to Rohtak, where he was cremated with full military honours. The entire town appeared to have concentrated around his house. A large number of men in Army fatigues had lined the street leading to his house.   

Deepak had displayed outstanding courage, leadership and commitment for which he was awarded Kirti Chakra.

Brigadier Suresh Chandra Sharma (retd.)