Service No: IC-39962A
Date of Birth : 31 Dec 1960
Place of Birth : Mumbai
Service : Army
Last Rank : Lt Col
Unit : 25 RR/18 Madras
Arm/Regt: The Madras Regiment
Operation: CI & IS Ops
Awards : SC
Date of Martyrdom : Oct 30, 1999
Lieutenant Colonel Ajit Bhandarkar was born in Mumbai on 31 Dec 1960. Son of Shri U V Bhandarkar, Lt Col Ajit had two brothers, and one of them, Col Arun Bhandarkar too served in the Army. He was inclined to join the Army since his childhood days and continued to follow his dream while growing up. After his initial schooling in Bangalore, he went on to study in Sainik School Bijapur, where the foundation of his future military career was laid. Eventually his dream came true, when he got selected for the prestigious National Defence Academy Khadakwasla. Later he moved to Indian Military Academy Dehradun for further training.
He was commissioned into 18 Madras of the Madras regiment, a regiment known for its gallant soldiers and numerous battle honours. After serving for few years, he got married to Ms 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 traveled across the country along with Lt Col Ajit and stayed at Pune, Indore, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi. Later Lt Col Ajit was sent on deputation to 25 RR battalion, deployed in J & K area for counter-insurgency operations. The family continued to stay in Delhi as the unit was located in a field area.
Faizalabad Operation : 30 Oct 1999
During Oct 1999, Lt Col Ajit Bhandarkar was serving with 25 RR deployed in Poonch district of J&K. As the AOR(Area of Operation) of the unit was infested with militants, the troops had to undertake counter-insurgency operations on a regular basis. On 30 October 1999, Lt Col Ajit’s unit had received intelligence inputs about the presence of militants in Faisalabad village in Poonch district. After assessing the situation a decision was taken to launch an operation under the leadership of Lt Col Ajit. As planned, a cordon and search operation was launched in the suspected area to eliminate five hardcore militants hiding in the village.
As the operation was underway, Lt Col Ajit spotted the militants escaping towards a nullah. He immediately swung into action and while chasing shot down one militant at point-blank range. However, 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. For this act of courage and supreme sacrifice, Lt Col Ajit Bhandarkar was awarded “Shaurya Chakra” posthumously.
Lt Col Ajit Bhandarkar is survived by his wife Smt Shakuntala Bhandarkar and two sons, Nirbhay and Akshay, parents, and two brothers. His wife, Smt Shakunthala Bhandarkar, having gone through the personal experience of being a martyr’s wife, is passionate about helping other martyrs’ families. She is a volunteer with the Vasantharatna Foundation for Art since its inception and has contributed immensely in conducting various events and activities for the families of martyrs. 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 after graduating as an Engineer.
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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