“The real Heroes are not seen in Cinema Hall screens, you will find them in a Uniform.”
A six-foot-two-inch tall man changes his name and looks to disguise himself as a terrorist, infiltrate the terrorist camp, neutralize two dangerous terrorist commanders, and escape successfully from the enemy territory after killing them. It sounds like a film story, but it is not.
Instead, this is a real-life story of one of the best-coveted missions, executed by the brave Indian Special Forces Commando Major Mohit Sharma.
Journey From Engineering College to Major
Mohit Sharma was born on 13th January 1978 in Rohtak, Haryana. He was the second child of his parents and completed his schooling at Ghaziabad in 1995. Then, his parents persuaded him to get an engineering degree and admitted him to an engineering college in Maharashtra.
However, he always had a passion for joining the forces, so he took the NDA entrance exam (National Defence Academy) before leaving for college and got selected. With a month to go for his medical exam, he was 6 kilos underweight and asked for his mother’s help, and she gave him a diet to follow, which helped him put on 8 kilos in just four weeks and cleared his medical exam.
Once he got into NDA in Pune, he quickly proved how committed he was to get into the Army. He became one of the best cadets and won trophies for excellence in boxing, swimming, and horse riding. He finished his three years at the NDA and then graduated from the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun in 1999. On 11th December 1999, Major Mohit Sharma was commissioned into one of the oldest infantry regiments, the 5th Battalion of the Madras Regiment.
In mid-2000, his unit was sent to the Poonch-Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir to operate under the 38 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) for counter-insurgency operations, where he started working alongside the Army’s Para Special Force.
He received his first recognition, a Chief of Army Staff commendation from the Army Chief for leading a counter-insurgency operation in the Rajouri area. In June 2003, he achieved his goal and joined 1 Para Special Forces as Captain Mohit Sharma.
While being posted to Chandimandir, the headquarters of Army’s Western Command on the outskirts of Chandigarh, where he met and fell in love with Captain Rishima Sareen, an officer with the Army Service Corps (ASC).
In early 2004, Mohit was called back to Kashmir, where he volunteered to do a mission. He dared and executed a legendary mission that would be remembered forever and continues to inspire everyone even today.
The Disguise of Kashmiri
In early 2000, The Kashmir Valley was a stronghold of Hizbul Mujahideen. It was responsible for the deaths of many civilians and army personnel in the valley. In addition, Hizbul was highly active in the recruitment of local Kashmiris. To stop this, the Army needed to neutralize two commanders Abu Torara and Abu Sabzar, who were leading a highly effective recruitment campaign in South Kashmir. After months of planning set out by intelligence agencies, the Indian Army drafted a complete plan to break the spine of the Hizbul.
He grew long hair and a thick beard and wore local Pehran to disguise himself as a Kashmiri. He also assumed a fake name, Iftikhar Bhatt. He then contacted the two recruiters and told them a made-up story to convince them.
He told them that the Indian security personnel killed his brother in 2001, and he wanted to avenge his brothers’ death by Army and needed help from the duo. He also informed them that he wanted to carry out a terror attack at an Army checkpoint and provided them with a hand-made map of routes to critical locations, checkpoints, entry and exit points.
Seeing his planning, Torara and Sabzar were impressed and agreed to help him but told him they would need to go underground for several weeks and help coordinate the logistics and finer points of the attack.
Later in March, after being underground for two weeks, Torara and Sabzar arranged for a consignment of grenades, besides summoning other terrorists from a nearby village, and a whole plan was made to carry out the attack.
However, one day while all three were in a cot and sipping tea, one of the recruiters started having doubts about the Iftikhar’s plan and how someone could have detailed information about the Army. So, the recruiter suddenly looked into Iftikhar’s eyes and asked him
“Who are you?”
Without any panic and showing his sharpness, Iftikhar suddenly got up and dropped his rifle on the ground and shouted like an angry young boy,
“If you have any doubts about me, kill me. You cannot do this if you do not trust me. So you have no choice but to kill me now.”
The move shocked the terrorist duo, and they looked at each other. Then before the terrorists could say or do anything, Iftikar suddenly pulled out a concealed 9mm pistol and shot both the commanders in the head. Blood spattered all over the white wall. After that, Iftikar fired two more bullets to make sure they were dead. He then sat back down and drank his remaining tea, and left the place.
He then started walking back to the Army base. Once he returned safely, he proudly revealed his true identity, Mohit Sharma of the Army’s 1 Para Special Forces. This mission earned him a Sena Medal.
In the same year, on 19th November 2004, Mohit and Rishima married each other in Chandigarh.
Killing Terrorists To Martyrdom
On 21st March 2009, Major Mohit Sharma and his 24 men of Para Special Forces did a mission in the dense Haphruda forest where some terrorists hid after infiltration into Indian territory. Major Mohit and his team did not have exact numbers of terrorists and were suddenly caught in heavy fire and needed to take cover. Showing exemplary leadership, he decided that he would be the last to go back and started providing cover fire to his men.
Unfortunately, while providing cover fire, a bullet tore into Mohit’s left arm. He tied a scarf around the wound and refused to move back until all his men were in a good cover.
Even though he was wounded, Mohit took the multi-grenade launcher (MGL) and fired six grenades towards terrorists, instantly killing four terrorists and reducing the fire considerably. By that time, everyone had taken cover, and so Major Mohit crept towards the rest of his men to finally take cover, but just when he was about to reach them, a bullet smashed into the left of his chest and tore right through him.
Major Mohit leaned against a tree and kept firing towards the remaining terrorists without a pause. He kept telling everyone to keep firing and make sure nobody escapes. Soon he visibly turned pale from the blood loss, but he did not stop firing till every man was in an advantageous position.
After some time, Major Mohit stopped firing and was sitting with his back against the tree. He had gone completely still. He had bled out entirely and was not breathing anymore. His rifle’s magazine was also empty, which showed that he fought bravely till his last breath and bullet.
He led from the front and killed four terrorists, and saved his two soldiers.
However, his martyrdom did not go in vain, and his last order of not letting any terrorist escape was achieved. The operation went on for another four days, and finally, on 25th March.
A total of 12 terrorists were killed, all Pakistani nationals belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Along with Major Mohit Sharma, seven other soldiers were martyred.
On 26th January 2010, Major Rishma received her husband’s posthumous Ashok Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, from then President of India Pratibha Patil.
Rishima Sharma continued serving the nation and is now a Lieutenant Colonel posted with an Army unit in Haryana. Every 21st March, Major Mohit’s unit observes a two-minute silence in his memory and those who were martyred along with him.
In 2019 a metro station of Ghaziabad was renamed Major Mohit Sharma Rajendra Nagar metro station in honour of India’s Real Hero.