Awaited At Home, Returned In A Casket- Captain Harshan, The Youngest Recipient Of Ashok Chakra.


Captain Harshan of 2 Parachute Regiment had promised his parents to soon take up his long pending leave and would come home to them and his two siblings in Thiruvananthapuram, away from all the blood battles of Jammu and Kashmir . Radhakrishnan Nair Harshan was a man of his words and he did return to home, only was carried in a casket.

The 25- year old captain has always been different from people of his age and his journey from a very young age with a passion of getting into the army is how one should live life, on their own terms.

When children start to dream about a secured career, Harshan dreamed of joining the Indian Army. Even at Sainik School he was exceptional in both studies and extracurricular activities.

Harshan appeared for NDA interview but failed the first time, much to his disappointment and was asked by his father to peruse engineering. The young boy, however, could not give up on his dream and again tried for NDA without anybody’s knowledge and succeeded this time.

After finishing the NDA course, he joined the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. During his commissioning in the Indian Army, Captain Harshan took his mother to the Balidan Mandir at IMA to show her the names of the brave martyrs and the messages to their mothers. He asked his mother to be proud of him if his name happens to appears there.

Captain Harshan

Completing his training in Kashmir in 2002, Lieutenant Harshan was sent to Israel for special weapons training. In 2006, Captain Harshan was posted to Baramulla, Kashmir and with his Red Devils Unit caught a terrorist and collected a cache of weapons.

The interrogation led Harshan to conduct a combing operation on infiltration at Kupawara near the Indo- Pak Border which was an unfruitful attempt. He then applied for leave to visit his home on March 20 just when he was he got information about spotting terrorists in Kupwara.

The mission was successful this time with Harshan and 20 men capturing the terrorists. The Red Devils were returning when a sudden gun shot hit Captain Harshan in the thigh while he continued to fight back.

Though injured himself, Harshan kept charge and killed three terrorists saving the lives of his men but the champion was again shot in the neck from a sniper by Lashkar-e-Toiba militants.

“I had known him all the four years that he had been in 2 Para. I had not met another officer like him in any Special Forces formation. So quiet and so soft spoken that we often have to really prod him to speak up, yet so good at his job that he was handling the entire training of his formation by himself,” says Lt Colonel S Srivastava, second in command of Harshan’s battalion. 

Captain Harshan is the youngest officer to receive the Ashok Chakra, the highest honour awarded during peace time, posthumously. Like he said, his name is now inscribed at the Balidan Mandir at the IMA and as he hoped, we are all very proud of the brave heart.