Service No : IC-21909
Date of Birth : June 30, 1943
Place of birth : Wardha, Maharashtra
Service : Army
Last Rank : Captain
Unit : 35 Lt Regt
Arm/Regt : The Regiment of Artillery
Operation : Op Cactus Lily
Awards : Vir Chakra
Martyrdom : December 8, 1971
Captain Ashok Kumar Karkare was born in Wardha, Maharashtra on 30th June 1943. Son of Mr KB Karkare, he joined the Indian Army after completing his initial education. He was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery, an important combat support arm of Indian Army well known for its field guns, howitzers and heavy weaponry. Barely few years into service, Capt Ashok Kumar Karkare got involved into thick of operations as his unit got deployed on the western border, when the war with Pakistan became imminent.
Defence of Khalra (Indo-Pak war) : 08 Dec 1971
During Indo- Pak 1971 war Capt Ashok Kumar Karkare’s unit 35 Lt Regt was deployed in the Western Sector. The unit was deployed in Punjab sector under 65 Infantry Brigade functioning under the operational control of 7 Infantry Division. 7 Inf Div under Maj Gen Freemantle was assigned the task of defending the sensitive areas of Harike and Hussainiwala headworks and Ferozepur town by denying the main routes of ingress from Pakistan into the area of his operational responsibility, namely Khalra-Patti Harike, Khemkaran-Patti-Harike, Khemkaran-Bhikhiwind -Amritsar, and Hussainiwala-Ferozepur. The main defences were to be based along the obstacle belt with covering troops deployed between the border and the belt. As part of ongoing operations 14 Rajput battalion deployed in the area was tasked to capture Khalra objective along with Artillery support. The Artillery support was to be provided by 35 Lt Regt. Capt Karkare was tasked to function as the forward observation officer with a company 14 Rajput battalion during their attack on Khalra.
On 07 Dec 1971, as the attack commenced, the enemy immediately brought down intense artillery fire inflicting heavy casualties on our troops. Capt Karkare secured a captured enemy artillery radio set and through it misguided the enemy, thereby diverting enemy artillery fire and saving casualties to our troops. On the morning of 8 December, the enemy launched determined counter-attacks with infantry supported by armour. Undeterred by the heavy shelling and small arms fire, Capt Karkare directed own artillery in an accurate manner and was instrumental in repulsing the attacks. He continued to engage the enemy till the troops had extricated themselves from the position. While Capt Karkare was himself withdrawing, he was hit by a machine gun burst and was martyred on the battle-field. Capt Karkare was a gallant soldier and a gritty officer who led from the front and laid down his life at the age of 28 years in the line of his duty.
Capt Ashok Kumar Karkare was given the gallantry award “Vir Chakra” for his outstanding courage, fighting spirit and supreme sacrifice.
The citation for the Vir chakra awarded to him reads:
Captain Ashok Kumar Karkare of the Regiment of Artillery was the forward Observation Officer with a company of a Battalion of The Rajput Regiment during their attack on Khalra in the Western Sector. The Company launched a determined attack and secured part of its objective despite very stiff opposition . The enemy immediately brought down intense artillery fire inflicting heavy causalities on our troops. Captain Ashok Karkare had in the meantime secured one of the Captured enemy artillery radio sets and through it misguided the enemy thereby diverting enemy artillery fire and saving casualties to our troops. On the morning of the 8th December 1971, the enemy launched a determined counted attack with infantry supported by armour. Undeterred by the heavy shelling and small arms fire . Captain Ashok Kumar Karkare directed own artillery fire in an accurate manner and was instrumental in repulsing the attack. The enemy launched another determined counter attack on the same day and once again he exposed himself to danger to provide effective artillery support . He continued to engage the enemy till our troops had extricated themselves from the position. While he was himself withdrawing he was hit by a machine gun burst and was killed on the spot.
Throughout, Captain Karkare displayed gallantry, leadership and devotion to duty of a high order.