Date of Birth : Dec 6, 1985

Birth Place : Bengaluru, Karnataka

Service: Army

Last Rank: Major

Unit: 51 Engineers

Arm/Regt : Corps of Engineers

Date of Martyrdom: Nov 29, 2016

Major Akshay Girish Kumar

Major Akshay was born along with his twin sister Neha, at 8.05 on 6th December 1985 to his parents Mrs. Meghna and Wg. Cdr. Girish Kumar (Retd). Even as a child, Akshay with his twinkling eyes, big smile and inherent warmth charmed one and all. After early education in different schools in Bidar, Wellington (Nilgiris), Gorakhpur and Chennai, in 1996, the twins joined Kumaran’s School (CBSE) in class six. Short for his age and skinny, Akshay would never hesitate to stand up to his principles from a very early age and he fought all odds to become a healthy, strong and determined boy with a passion to join the Defence Forces and serve his motherland. His inspiration may have come from his family since his grandfather Lt Col A. K. Moorthy(Retd) is a war veteran and apart from his father Wg Cdr. Girish Kumar who was a Fighter Pilot, maternal uncle Wg. Cdr. K Harisenani (Retd) is also a former Air Force Pilot.

 

He joined the Bangalore military school as a Boarder in 8th standard, worked hard and did well in school. After class 12th, he wrote the National Defence Academy (NDA) entrance exam (one of the toughest entrance examinations anywhere) and was selected among just 572 boys across the country. However, his dream of joining the Indian Air Force was cut short in the stringent medical examination because he wore glasses and the IAF pilots need perfect vision. His father suggested strongly that he do commercial flying and join an Airline. He just smiled and said my dream is to wear the uniform and serve our country -that is how his journey into the army began. Cadet Akshay Girish (111 NDA Course) was trained at the prestigious Tri-Services National Defence Academy from 2003-2006 after which he went to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun for one more year of specialized Army training.

 

Officer And Gentleman

 

On 10th December 2007, Lt Akshay Girish was commissioned as an officer in the 51 Engineers- a regiment of the Bengal Sappers. He wore the Olive Green uniform with great pride and did his work with utmost passion. By his 9th year of service, he had served in conflict zones of Kashmir and Nagaland and also in high altitudes of over 19000 feet in Sikkim. He led difficult tasks for his regiment like fencing the border in the Line of Control between Indo-Pak border in the mountains beyond Kupwara in Kashmir and building bunkers at the Indo-China border. He did very well in his Army Courses and earned an A grade in the Young Officers course and an Instructor’s grade in the Junior Command course. He also got his B Tech in Electrical Engineering from College of Military Engineering, Pune. Akshay married his friend Sangeeta Ravindran in 2011 and they were blessed with little Naina in October 2013.

 

Akshay had great regimental spirit and regard for his seniors and much concern for the welfare of men under his command. He often spoke about their tough life and wanted to help their children achieve their dreams. Many a time he called us up to ask about educational avenues and admission procedures for the children of soldiers in his unit.

 

Akshay was the ultimate jack of all trades: a good painter, tennis and basketball player, singer, dancer, writer, poet and cook! Above all, he was a very caring and motivated young officer, a wonderful son, loving husband and adoring father. Time was never a limiting factor for him to learn something, nor to connect with people. Family time was very important to him and he used to drag us to post-dinner midnight coffee for deep heartfelt conversations.  He also openly showered family members and friends with compliments and he always genuinely meant them.

 

In 2009, Akshay was awarded the Chief of Army Staff Commendation (COAS Medal) for leading an exceptional rescue of injured civilians near Kupwara in Kashmir.

 

Nagrota Attack : 29 Nov 2016

 

Major Akshay Girish had moved to Nagrota (J&K) with his unit in September 2016. On the fateful day of 29th November when terrorists attacked a neighboring Artillery unit at about 5.30am in Nagrota and killed four soldiers before entering two residential buildings, Akshay was chosen to lead his unit’s Quick Reaction Team(QRT) to fight the terrorists.

 

Three terrorists had taken vantage positions in two residential buildings that housed officers families and a Mess and the QRT vehicle came under heavy terrorist fire even as they entered the location.  Akshay showed exemplary leadership in assessing the danger and moved in with his team to take counter-terrorist action. Their task was to prevent terrorists from killing women, children and unarmed men who were trapped within their homes. Along with his buddy Naik Chittaranjan Debbarma and Major Kunal Gosavi Mannadir (Artillery), Akshay and his team not only engaged the terrorists and prevented the evil designs of the terrorists to take hostages and massacre innocents, but they also ensured that the terrorists could not spread out in the cantonment area and destroy important assets.

 

After Major Kunal was martyred in the firefight, Major Akshay and his team continued to fight courageously and kept the terrorists pinned down. In doing so, Akshay was hit by 2 bullets and finally laid down his life after a grenade was launched at him. Naik Chittaranjan was also martyred. While the soldiers made the supreme sacrifice, they ensured that all 16 people who had been held hostage were saved. All the terrorists were also neutralized by additional forces within few hours.

 

The courage and valour showed by Major Akshay Girish who disregarded his own safety and thoughts of his beloved family while protecting fellow Indians inspired innumerable Indians who wrote touching messages in praise of their ‘Veer Yodha’.

  • Draped in the Tricolour, Major Akshay Girish was saluted by CM of J&K Mehbooba Mufti and the Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhaag among other dignitaries in Jammu.
  • He received a fitting farewell with full Military Honours in Air Force Station, Yelahanka, Bangalore before being cremated in Hebbal where his father Wg. Cdr. Girish Kumar performed the last rites.
  • Thousands of people from Karnataka and other states paid their last respects to the valiant soldier.

 

Major Akshay Girish : Son, Hero, Martyr

It’s the festive season. On behalf of our family, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year in advance. While we are all doing our best to cope with losing Akshay in flesh and blood, we are also talking about him all the time and continuing to tell each other to stay strong, supportive, caring and loving. Because, Akshay has set very high standards of how to live life and embrace death, and the least we can do is try and emulate his way of bringing cheer and succor to people he came in touch with.

Akshay is remembered as this ever smiling, fun loving boy who radiated positivism but as a parent, I know he never had it easy. He worked hard towards everything he wanted to achieve and the path was usually rocky. In fact, Akshay faced some very tough challenges even after following his heart into the National Defence Academy, where he and Aditya continued to be together as ‘first termers in Echo Squadron’. Unlike the Air Force and Naval cadets who automatically get science subjects (called techies) for their academic degree, Army cadets may have to take up humanities (non-techies). Akshay had always been better at Science than at Social Studies but  once he realized that many of his NDA course-mates had very high percentage of marks in their 12th Board exams, he was worried. Since many army cadets had overall % of marks in the mid-90s, Akshay had to not only keep his fingers crossed but also pro-actively try for BSc because he did not want to do a BA. Much to his relief, he succeeded in convincing the officer in charge! The next challenge was not only managing the really tough routine of military training, the constant physical and academic tests and the ‘ragda’ but also staying firm on a newly chosen path after having been denied a long-cherished dream of becoming a fighter pilot. Akshay was swayed by peer influence, some of who questioned why he opted for NDA and not for ‘commercial flying’, when his dad had given him that choice. Less than a month after joining NDA, Akshay, over a phone call, told Girish and me that he was considering leaving the academy and returning home. He added that some other cadets had run away from the tough life! I wrote Akshay a long letter reminding him of how driven he had been to choose this career, how he had overcome so many challenges right since his birth and to carefully consider and decide on what he really wanted to do. I also added that if he wanted to return, we would respect his change of mind and support whatever he chose to do. Akshay overcame confusion and chose to stay on. He never ever looked back. Even when a confrontation of the young cadets with senior 5th/6th termers took a serious turn and resulted in some of them being reassigned to other squadrons in their second term, Akshay remained motivated and cheerful. He moved on to become a proud and loyal ‘Kilo’ squadron-type, even as his soft corner for his ‘Echo’ mates never left him! When inter-squadron competitions became fierce, Akshay always said he cheered first for ‘Kilo’, and when it was not in the running for top spots, ‘Echo’ was what he rooted for! As a family, Girish, Neha and I visited Akshay more than a couple of times during his three years in NDA.

Akshay was always happy and proud to take family and friends around his squadron and talk animatedly about the vast facilities and activities that kept them on their toes from sunrise to sunset. I confess I was one of ‘those moms’ who visited her son in every term at NDA! Despite being told it was not the ‘done thing’, I seized every given opportunity to travel to Pune and visit Akshay because I missed him a lot and wanted to meet him as often as possible! My heart would swell just seeing our ‘little boy’ walking towards us, and listening to his unending stories on all he and his mates were upto, made my day. He would talk all about ‘cross country competitions to drill and PT, maths and physics classes in Sudan block to lectures, events and movies in Habibullah hall, ‘fake’ liberties and punishments to jam sessions and NDA Ball, basketball, horse riding and tennis to cream rolling, push-ups and ‘dhava’, the 10 metre board jump to racing up and down Sinhagad fort, cycling and samosas at gol market to sailing in Khadakwasla lake, the amazing NDA dining hall and fantastic menus to never having enough time to eat a full meal, the famous camps – Green horn, Rovers and Torna to the ‘Josh run’ back to the academy.’ There were many more interesting tales that I’m sure his friends will be reminded of.

We lapped up all that he would narrate, particularly when he was home during term-breaks, and we went through many emotions with Akshay.  He was well aware of his weaknesses and strengths and was in awe of friends who excelled in an activity and were rewarded with a blazer or medal. He loved the wonderful camaraderie through the tough competitions and took pride in the fact that every single cadet’s performance contributed to the squadron’s position. That meant motivating each other to do their best for the squadron and never leaving a buddy or mate behind. Akshay was very proud of the stress NDA laid on character-building for ‘officer-like qualities’. He often spoke about the code of honour and how lying, cheating and stealing are the only vices not tolerated in NDA. Not owing up would result in a cadet being thrown out. The spirit of the ‘Cradle for Leadership’ had seeped in till it flowed in Akshay’s veins. Our charmer also had this innate and intuitive ability to reach out to help a fellow being faced with a problem. In their final term at NDA, Akshay called to ask if he could bring a friend home for a night. He went on to explain how the friend from an economically backward family was stressed because his father was unable to repay a loan. The family was being harassed by the money lender and the young son, a cadet like Akshay, wanted to help his family. Girish gladly gave the money and we got to meet and admire the grit and determination of another young officer in the making. Needless to say, the young man returned the money once he got his officers commission.

It was while on a break home from NDA that Akshay and Sangeeta took their initial friendship (they had earlier met through common friends) a step ahead. They spent hours on the phone late at night and Akshay began to sport that slightly goofy smile that the ‘falling-in-love’ types are famous for! While I wasnt really privy to details of their relationship at that stage, like most mothers, I could sense my son was happier than he had previously been in other ‘crushes’. As I come to the end of this part of Akshay’s story, flashback is merging with fast-forward. Recollections bring me to the ‘Hut of Remembrance’ in NDA. I remember Akshay telling me that the cadets themselves had built the revered memorial in the mid 1950s to honour the sacrifices of NDA alumni who laid down their lives in service of the motherland. The prayer when the Academy assembles to pay homage to the martyrs says “Merciful God, we earnestly pray, that those of us who are yet to be tested and shaped in the forge of the battle, may, when the call comes, be capable of the same devotion, courage and determination, in the service of our country, as those of our comrades – at – arms, whom we remember today, in this Hut of Remembrance. Let their noble example guide us to emulate them in their integrity and may their inspiration help us in the moments of our greatest peril to triumph over our shortcomings and weaknesses”. The names of 2/Lt Arun Khetarpal and Capt Manoj Kumar Pandey are legendary and Akshay would speak about their astonishing bravery and their gallantry awards. On a recent course re-union at the NDA, my brother Hari and friend Geetanjali sent us some images.  The name of our son, ‘Major Akshay Girish – 51 Engineers’ is already enshrined in the sublime memorial. If only he could see his name in his alma mater’s Hut of Remembrance, that wonderful smile of satisfaction would light up Akshay’s face. I can picture that smile through blurry eyes.

To read more about Maj Akshay Girish Kumar, read the  blog written by his Mother Meghna Girish  : https://findingnewmeaning.blog/

‘Akshay’ means ‘indestructible’ and ‘one who lives forever’. This poem written by Maj Akshay  when he was in NDA in 2004, is very meaningful even today:

If you feel like crying call me I don’t promise I can make you laugh

But I can cry with you If you feel alone

Think of me I don’t promise I will be in front of you

But when you close your eyes, you will see me

If you find times are getting tough Don’t quit,

keep moving Cause’ when you need a helping hand,

I’m there To support you all the way

But when you reach your destination Don’t think you did it because I supported you

But because you believed in yourself And this is what matters most.

Tribute to Nagrota Martyrs :

Saviors of Nagrota: Second Year Remembrance of 29/11.

Two years ago, well before dawn on this fateful day, the Army Cantonment in Nagrota was caught by surprise with the terrible sound of gunfire and grenade blasts.  Considered a safe town, Nagrota which is situated between Jammu and Udhampur had never before been under attack but this one was huge.

Plotted in Pakistan

The ongoing NIA investigations have since revealed how the terror attack was plotted in Pakistan and how well-trained, very heavily armed Jaish e Mohammed (JeM) terrorists were infiltrated across the border, and dropped close to the attack location by local JeM supporters.  Their plan was to inflict maximum possible damage inside the HQ of 16 Corps, barely two months after India’s successful surgical strikes resulted in heavy casualties across the LoC with Pakistan. Entering the rear end of the 166 Artillery Regiment after walking through heavy tree cover and scaling the boundary wall, in the initial assault, the militants possibly carried out the maximum harm. The terrorists first shot dead a lone sentry and three sleeping soldiers before entering two residential blocks that housed officers’ families and Mess staff. Inside the buildings were homes with 2 women, 2 children and 12 men, all in grave danger of being killed or taken hostage. A short distance from there, about 300 families of other ranks were also at risk.

The QRT Response

What saved the day was the swift and effective counter-terrorist response. Responding to the call for help, the Quick Reaction Team of the neighboring 51 Engineer Regiment led by Major Akshay Girish came under heavy terrorist fire even as they entered the location in the dark wintry hours before sunrise. Akshay’s QRT was joined by Major Kunal Gosavi Mannadir of 166 Arty Regiment. As the QRT was effectively deployed to surround the buildings and stop the terrorists from causing further casualties, they must have known how difficult their task was. The terrorists were holed up in the same buildings that housed our people making it very tricky to protect and rescue those trapped.

Even as darkness gave way to dawn, the fighting continued. The terrorists could move up and down from the roof to both floors via common staircases. They were continuously being challenged and countered by our soldiers, but to try and rescue trapped families, there was no way other than risking one’s life and entering the building. Major Kunal Gosavi and Major Akshay Girish did just that. Displaying indomitable bravery to save the women, children and unarmed men, first Major Kunal and an hour later, Major Akshay made the supreme sacrifice fighting to their last breath. Akshay had gone so deep inside the battle zone that his body could not even be recovered till combing operations by Para Special Forces late in the evening. He had taken multiple bullets and a grenade launched directly at him had blown up his thigh, leaving him in a pool of blood. Soon after Major Akshay, Naik Chittaranjan who single-handedly held on with his LMG till the Para SF arrived was also martyred by a bullet that hit him on the head.

While reports suggested that security lapses allowed the terrorists easy entry, the terrorists evil designs to take/kill hostages and inflict maximum collateral damage was thwarted by raw courage of brave young officers who selflessly risked their lives. They succeeded in saving many precious lives, while also protecting the soldiers under their command by leading from the front. No hostages were allowed to be taken, all trapped people were rescued unharmed, possible damage to military assets was prevented and the three terrorists were eliminated.

The Soldiers and their Families

All the seven martyrs were young married men in their late twenties to mid-thirties. Many young fathers left behind a grieving wife, parents and little kids who now have to grow up without their hero father. Grenadier Raghvendra Singh’s family said they are now more determined to raise his five-year-old to serve the Indian army. Debbarma’s relative said he had made multiple phone calls to tell his wife in Tripura that they were in the midst of a terrorist attack and he would not get out alive. Rifleman Asim Rai’s family was not allowed to take his body back to Nepal and the cremation had to be done by his uncle in Bagdogra. Lance Naik Kadam Sambhaji Yeshwantrao was the sole bread-winner in his family and his wife, little daughter and old mother have lost their greatest support. Harmeet Kaur, wife of Havildar Sukhraj Singh echoed every brave family’s sentiment when she said, “I have no demand from the govt. I am proud he died for the country. May there be peace”.

Destiny’s Children

The three Bravehearts in the QRT who were martyred fighting were all supposed to be on leave on 29th November 2016, the day Nagrota was attacked. Destiny decided otherwise. Major Kunal returned two days earlier than expected, after spending Diwali at his parents’ home with his wife Uma, daughter Umang and his siblings. Akshay was set to leave Nagrota that day with his wife Sangeeta and little daughter Naina, for a wedding in the extended family. The plan was to also reunite with his twin sister in Mumbai for a combined birthday party after many years.  Chittaranjan who was already on annual leave since 26th November had chosen to stay back few days longer to sign papers for a loan, to renovate his family home in his village, near Agartala. They all had a much larger purpose to their lives. Turned out to be blood brothers of a different kind.

Please join us in saluting all the Nagrota martyrs. May our Nation never forget their courage and bestow due recognition to honour their sacrifice. God bless their families. Jai Hind.

Meghna Girish

(Mother of Major Akshay Girish).

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93 Tributes
  • Priyanka Agarwal - Bangalore Urban,Karnataka

    2018 at 7:08 pm Reply

    A tribute and salute to Akshay and his family.
    A salute to you aunty and his family for sacrificing a son, a husband , a father, a brother.
    I’m blessed to know him and be his friend and take pride that i know a real hero a veer
    I will consider myself lucky if I can be of any help to his trust and family.

  • Seema Sharma - Mumbai City,Maharashtra

    2018 at 8:00 am Reply

    We will forever be indebted to you. On my part I can only do this much, inspire my child to join armed forces and live by honourable ideals like that of yours.
    Jai Hind!!

  • Anirudha Rajguru - Thane,Maharashtra

    2018 at 7:48 pm Reply

    I tribute and Salute you Major Akshay and his family.
    A supreme sacrifice for the country and its people.
    You and your family are the real heroes.

  • Mrs anu chhabra - Pune,Maharashtra

    2018 at 11:56 pm Reply

    Brave mom’ Brave son maa tujhe salaam no words speechless jai hind jai hind to our brave heroes

  • Madhav - Central Delhi,Delhi

    2018 at 1:16 pm Reply

    May his soul rest in peace and may god bless the near and dear ones of the brave martyr.

    Honestly, my hands are trembling while writing this tribute as I know, I am not even worthy or have no idea of the pain of the bereaved family. But for sure, I have a deep respect for the parents and spouse of Maj. Akshay and other martyrs Who have a sense of responsibility towards the nation and its citizens.

    Thanks for everything and god bless !!

  • MANABESH MANDAL - Agra,Uttar Pradesh

    2018 at 3:21 am Reply

    Salute to you sir. You are an inspiration. Rest in peace.

  • Meera madappa - Ahmedabad,Gujarat

    2018 at 8:46 pm Reply

    Our country has lost an exemplary officer. A mother has lost a priceless son and a wife a loving husband. We salute Major Akshay for his outstanding courage in the face of death and their combined efforts to save the lives of women n children who were the target. May God bless the family and wipe their
    every tear, giving them success in all their endeavours in their life ahead. jai Hind.

  • Ajay PRASAD - Gurgaon,Haryana

    2018 at 8:40 pm Reply

    Salute to you sir.
    For me there is no words to say about you. I can only say that all because of you we are living in peace and dignity.
    Jai Hind

  • Pratik Agarwala - New Delhi,Delhi

    2018 at 2:56 pm Reply

    Special are these men with such valour and selflessness, and special are the people around them who have the strength to live on with the losses. No amount of tributes and salutes will ever be enough. We don’t even have the grit to get up and work out to keep only ourselves fit, and here are honourable men as Martyred Major Akshay who lay down their lives for the country. We are all rich or poor by the number of people who miss us when we are gone, and not by our wealth, and to this extent, Major Akshay lives on within our hearts with immense pride. Jai Hind!

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