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Posted at: Oct 6, 2018, 12:03 AM; last updated: Oct 6, 2018, 12:03 AM (IST)

Will surpass you in bravery, Capt Bhardwaj had told dad

Was awarded Shaurya Chakra for bravery and sacrifice during ‘Operation Rakshak’ in J&K

Col Dilbag Dabas (Retd)

Bravery is in the DNA of this Bhardwaj family of Gadoli Khurd village in Gurugram district. Col Kanwar Bhardwaj, a veteran of Rajputana Rifles, is a Sena Medal awardee for gallantry, his elder son, a serving Lieutenant Colonel, is a seasoned NSG commando, and the younger, Capt Umang Bhardwaj, was awarded the coveted Shaurya Chakra for his exemplary valour and sacrifice.

Umang, born on March 24, 1977, was a second generation soldier. He studied in Army Schools wherever his father was posted. He did senior secondary from Army Public School, Delhi Cantt, and was selected for the National Defence Academy but his parents did not allow him to join since their other son was already serving in the Army; a reason Umang did not understand. However, he obeyed his parents for the dotting son that he was, but the urge to be a soldier did not subside.

Umang graduated from Delhi University and during his MBA final semester, during campus placement, he was offered a corporate job with a handsome pay and perks. He declined the offer much against the wishes of his parents and spoke his heart out to his mother: “Mummy, I am not a cut out for the sale-purchase jobs. I prefer to be on the front line in a combat fatigue”. He went on to join the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, from where he was commissioned into Army Service Corps of the Indian Army on December 11, 1999. 

While on attachment with 7th Jat Battalion, for his consistent bravery, gallant action and supreme sacrifice, Capt Umang Bhardwaj was awarded the Shaurya Chakra. The battle account of his gallant action is recorded in the war diary of 7th Jat Battalion. 

Capt Umang’s father Col Kanwar Bhardwaj recalls, “As an adolescent, while looking at my Sena Medal, once Umang asked me how I got it. After I narrated to him the act for which I was awarded the medal, he, with a confident look on his face, said Daddy, I will surpass you in bravery if an opportunity comes my way. The opportunity did come his way and he grabbed it with both hands and surpassed me in bravery. He made not just me, but our entire Bhardwaj clan proud”. 

Col Bhardwaj continues with a sigh “every mother’s son has a date with fate. Umang, our Tinu, too had his. He met his date with fate as a warrior, as a ‘Shoorveer’, in the finest traditions of the Indian Army”.

The summary of the gallant action in War Diary of 7th Jat Battalion reads..

Capt Umang Bhardwaj was Ghatak Platoon Commander in ‘D’ company of 7th Jat Battalion deployed in Kashmir on ‘Operation Rakshak’ duties. On the evening of November 18, 2002, the electronic surveillance cell of the battalion reported  heavy movement of Pakistan-trained Harkat-ul Mujahideen terrorists in Raja Gap across the Line of Control in the Mendhar sector of Kashmir. Capt Bhardwaj was tasked with readying his Ghatak platoon, laying an ambush by the midnight of November 18/19 to intercept and catch/ eliminate as many terrorists as he and his Ghatak platoon could. 

Believing in himself, believing in his courageous Ghataks and in the finest traditions of his Paltan, Capt Bhardwaj readied his Ghatak platoon and laid the ambush before time on the anticipated route of the terrorists, the route the terrorists take to cross the Mendhar-Balnoi-Nangi Tekri salient over Pir Panjal  and join homegrown  terrorists in the Kashmir valley.

Around 12.45 am, Capt Bhardwaj noticed the terrorists approaching the ambush site. When the terrorists came close up to 10 metres, he led the charge killing the leading terrorist from point-blank range. One terrorist tried to escape downhill into a nullah. Capt Bhardwaj, unmindful of the grave danger to his life, ran parallel to him and killed him again from point-blank range. While he was engaging other terrorists, he got a burst in his chest during indiscriminate firing by the fleeing terrorists, and was grievously wounded. While being evacuated to the Battalion Medical Aid Post, Capt Bhardwaj died en route. For his exceptional courage, bravery beyond the call of duty and for supreme sacrifice, Capt Umang Bhardwaj was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously.

(The writer is a veteran Gunner, 6 Field Regiment)


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