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Updated December 24th, 2023 at 19:09 IST

Remembering Major Mohit Sharma, the Special Forces operative who went undercover as ‘Iftikhar’

Major Sharma's bravery and leadership in the face of grave danger continue to inspire generations of officers of the Indian Army as well as civilians alike.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
Edited by: Yuvraj Tyagi
Indian Army
Image: Shutterstock/ Major Mohit Sharma, Ashok Chakra, Sena Medal, Memorial Trust | Image:self
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Born January 13, 1978, Major Mohit Sharma was fondly called ‘Chintu’ by his relatives and ‘Mike’ by his coursemates. The officer would have turned 45 this year (2023). However, Major Mohit Sharma was immortalised in action on March 21, 2009, at the age of 31.

Decorated posthumously with India’s highest peacetime gallantry award Ashok Chakra, Major Mohit Sharma is fondly remembered for his exceptional bravery and leadership, especially for an undercover operation where he worked under the alias 'Iftikhar Bhatt’.

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21 Mar 2009

Major Mohit Sharma not only evacuated injured soldiers of his team despite being wounded himself, but also led his assault team to successfully neutralise terrorists.

We Pay our Tribute to the valour of Major Mohit Sharma, #AshokaChakra (Posthumous). pic.twitter.com/oGwh3hOjL2

— ADG PI - INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) March 21, 2023

Major Mohit Sharma was leading an operation in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district in 2009. The development came after the military intelligence received input about an infiltration attempt made by foreign terrorists following which a search and destroy operation was launched on March 21, 2009. Maj Mohit Sharma was tasked to lead a special forces team in the dense Haphruda Forest

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During the combing operation, Maj Sharma’s team made contact with the enemy and a fierce gunbattle ensued. In the exchange of fire, four of Maj Sharma’s team members were wounded. Showing the true spirit of the Chetwode Motto and with complete disregard for his personal safety, Maj Mohit Sharma crawled and recovered two of his wounded brethren in arms amid the heavy exchange of fire.

Credit- ADGPI

In the battle, Major Mohit Sharma also killed two infiltrators. However, the officer was struck in the chest by a volley of enemy fire. Undeterred, Maj Mohit Sharma refused to be evacuated and killed two more infiltrators in close combat. However, the gallant officer later succumbed to his wounds.

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For his selfless action in the operation, Major Mohit Sharma was decorated with the Ashok Chakra.

Lived a life less ordinary

Born in Haryana's Rohtak in 1978, Major Mohit Sharma got admission to Maharashtra’s Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj College of Engineering. However, to pursue his passion for the Indian Armed Forces, Sharma left engineering and joined the National Defence Academy in 1995.

A member of NDA’s India Squadron, Sharma proved himself to be one of the best cadets in the academy. Notably, Sharma excelled in horse riding, boxing and swimming as a cadet in NDA. After the completion of his tenure at the NDA, Sharma was awarded the appointment of Battalion Cadet Adjutant (BCA) at the Indian Military Academy. Sharma was commissioned into the 5th battalion of the Madras Regiment on December 11, 1999.

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Following his first posting at Hyderabad, Lieutenant Mohit Sharma was deployed in Kashmir in 2002 in the 38th Battalion of Rashtriya Rifles to carry out counter-insurgency operations in the valley. The officer received his first award for gallantry during this deployment, a Chief of Army Staff Commendation Medal (COASM).

Credit: Major Mohit Sharma, Ashok Chakra, Sena Medal, Memorial Trust

The Indian Army’s Para (Special Forces) carry the motto “Men apart, every man an emperor”. Sharma had aspired to be a part of this elite group. So, the officer opted to join the Parachute Regiment’s 1-Para (Special Forces) battalion in June 2003 after clearing an arduous selection and training procedure.

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In subsequent counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir, while serving under 1 Para (SF), Sharma was promoted to the rank of Captain. Notably, the officer received a Sena Medal for gallantry in 2004 for an undercover operation where he worked under the alias of ‘Iftikhar Bhatt’. The operation led to the neutralisation of two notable terrorists from the Hizbul Mujahideen.

Major Sharma's bravery and leadership in the face of grave danger continue to inspire generations of officers of the Indian Army as well as civilians alike. Major Mohit Sharma is remembered as a gallant officer who embodied the best qualities of an Indian soldier - courage, leadership, and a deep sense of devotion and duty towards the nation.

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Published December 24th, 2023 at 19:01 IST

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