Service No: IC-39962A
Date of Birth : 31 Dec 1960
Birth Place : Bangalore
Last Rank : Lt Col
UNIT: 25 RR
Regiment: The Madras Regiment
Operation: Op Rakshak (J&K)
Awards : SC
Date of Martyrdom : Oct 30, 1999
Lieutenant Colonel Ajit Bhandarkar was born in Bangalore on 31 Dec 1960. Son of Mr U V Bhandarkar, Lt Col Ajit had two brothers and one of them, Lt Col Arun Bhandarkar is also serving in the Army. Lt Col Ajit was keen in joining the Army since his childhood and he followed his dream . He was commissioned into the Madras regiment, a regiment known for its long history of outstanding service and various battle honours.
Lt Col Ajit got married to Shakuntala and the couple had two sons named Nirbhay and Akshay. During his service career Lt Col Ajit participated in various operations and operated in places with different terrain and environments. Consequently, the family also travelled across the country along with Lt Col Ajit and stayed at Pune, Indore, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.
During 1999, Lt Col Ajit was serving with 25 RR on deputation from his parent regiment. 25 RR was deployed in J & K area and was engaged in anti insurgency operations. The family continued to stay in Delhi as the unit was located in a field area.
Faizalabad Operation : 30 Oct 1999
On 30 October 1999, Lt Col Ajit’s unit had received intelligence inputs about the presence of militants in Faizalabad village in Poonch district. After assessing the situation a decision was taken to launch an operation under the leadership of Lt Col Ajit . A cordon and search operation was launched to eliminate five hardcore militants hiding in the village. Lt Col Ajit spotted the militants escaping towards a nullah and chased them, shooting down one militant at point blank range.
The second militant hiding inside the nullah fired indiscriminately, and injured Lt Col Ajit grievously. Despite being injured, he moved ahead and lobbed a grenade on the militants. He then crawled forward and shot down another militant. His daredevil action resulted in the elimination of three hardcore militants. Lt Col Ajit , however later succumbed to his injuries and was martyred. Ironically he was martyred on his birthday at the age of 40 years. For this act of courage and supreme sacrifice Lt Col Ajit Bhandarkar was awarded “Shaurya Chakra” posthumously.
Lt Col Bhandarkar is survived by his wife Shakuntala and two sons, Nirbhay and Akshay ,Parents and two Brothers. His wife, Shakunthala Bhandarkar , having gone through the personal experience of being a martyr’s wife, is passionate about helping other martyrs’ families. She has been a part of the Vasantharatna Foundation for Art since its inception and has contributed immensely in conducting various events and activities for the families of martyrs. Vasantharatna Foundation , based in Bangalore, is engaged in conducting various programmes for the welfare of the families of martyrs and Mrs Shakunthala Bhandarkar is an executive member of this Foundation.
The undying passion to serve the nation seems to have been inherited by Lt Col Bhandarkar’s sons too. Whilst the elder son Capt Nirbhay Bhandarkar has joined his father’s unit after passing out from OTA Chennai, Sub Lt Akshay Bhandarkar has joined the Indian Navy under the University Entry Scheme (UES) after his engineering.
Citation for the Saurya Chakra awarded to him reads:-
On 30 October 1999, Lieutenant Colonel Ajit Bhandarkar led an operation in village Faizalabad (Surankot) in Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir. A cordon and search operation was launched to eliminate five hardcore militants hiding in the village. Lieutenant Colonel Ajit Bhandarkar spotted the militants escaping towards a nalla. He chased the militants inside the nalla and shot dead one militant at point blank range. The second militant hiding inside the nalla fired indiscriminately, injuring him grievously. Despite being injured, he moved ahead and lobbed a grenade on the militants. He then crawled forward and shot down a militant. His action saved the lives of other personnel. His daring action resulted in the elimination of three hardcore militants. He, However, succumbed to his injuries.
Lieutenant Colonel Ajit Bhandarkar, thus, displayed gallantry and bold leadership while facing the militants and made the supreme sacrifice.
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