This Naval Officer still has a Sharpnel in his Chest, he cheated Death to become Commander of INS Karna


Captain Varun Singh, the commander of Indian Navy’s new MARCOS base, is the man who has not only fought his grave injuries but also defeated death in its face sixteen years ago, has been handed over the command of INS Karna.

MARCOS(marine commandos) which was created in February 1987 as the Indian Marine Special Force(IMSF) is capable of operating in all three dimensions of warfare: at sea, in air and on land. INS Karna, the only dedicated base of MARCOS in the country has been recently commissioned by India’s Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lamba.

During an interview with NDTV, Varun spoke about his destiny to become a soldier when his father, who was also an officer in the Navy, named him ‘Varun’. “My janam kundli said that I would die in water. So my father said, ‘Let’s meet destiny head on.’ And I was named Varun, the God of water and the celestial ocean”, said Varun.

Captain Singh was handed the command of INS Karna by Admiral Lanba in a solemn ceremony organised on the campus of INS Kalinga at Bheemunipatnam in Vizag on July 12, 2016.

This is one prodigious story of a man, a hero in real sense, who had been almost given up for dead 16 years ago. But his determination to serve his nation filled him with immense courage to get over any and all obstacles and injuries and to become the commander of the Indian Navy’s latest base.

Varun loved watching Shah Rukh Khan in his show “Fauji” when he was young. It was then he started dreaming of becoming a commando and wearing a camouflage uniform. After finishing his education, Varun went on to fulfilling his dream of joining Indian Navy.

Chief of the Naval Staff receiving the salute from the Guard of Honour during the Commissioning Ceremony of INS Karna. source.

MARCOS specialise in maritime warfare and amphibious operations which means they have to work around both water and land. In the year 2000, Varun Singh and a squad of MARCOS commandos were posted in the Wular Lake area in Kashmir.

Because of maintaining a disguise in bearded look, terrorists use to acknowledge them as Dadiwala Fauj.  Varun and the unit of marine commandos had been given the responsibility of blocking the infiltration of terrorists through the lake regardless of any eventuality.


The increased attempts of infiltration from Pakistan in the month of May, often called for the MARCOS unit to take care of the situation. They were given information that three hardcore Al-Badr terrorists were holed up in a house in a village called Puttushahi near Bandipora(J&K).

Around the same time, despite of having been deployed somewhere else on an early morning mission, Varun did not want take chances and let go of the opportunity to take on terrorists. Varun asked for the permission of his commanding officer to be deployed with the marine commandos’ team that was heading to Puttushahi village.

When the unit arrived at the village, they got an idea that terrorists were taking shelter in a big house and would have to be flushed out. Varun and one of his fellow marine commandos decided to sneak into one of the nearby building to locate a vantage spot that could provide with a clear look around to see the terrorists. .

While spotting the terrorists, the team did not see any movement in the target house.  Varun, being the demolition expert in the team, decide to throw grenades into the building. Still, with no improvement, Varun’s fellow commando tossed a RDX device into the house on the suggestion of their commanding officer.

Admiral Sunil Lanba and Smt Reena Lanba, unveiling the Commissioning Plaque of ‘INS Karna’

That resulted into an explosion and the target building collapsed with the body of one of the terrorists hanging at the backside. The operation was still on until the rest two of the terrorists were either captured or killed.

The marine commandos and the Army soldiers who were also part of the operation decided to enter the building yard by jumping over a 5-foot wall. An Army soldier went on to check the cowshed when, there started a sudden firing of bullets.

Amid all the chaos and firing, the soldiers ran to take cover behind the same wall. Varun noticed two army soldiers, who were stunned with the sudden gunfire and froze on the spot. Varun, instead of running behind the wall, decided to give cover to those soldiers.

Varun said, “I sat in front of the two jawans. It was then that the two terrorists emerged from the cow shed to try and shoot those who they had spotted trying to escape.”.

Varun did not caught sight of the terrorists even at a distance of less than 5 meters. Varun started shooting the terrorists in a clear line of sight, with both of them falling on the ground. Unfortunately, one of them already had his hand on the trigger as he fell and a round was fired at Varun.

“In a fraction of a second, everything changed. The bullet hit a grenade which was on the right hand side of my chest. The grenade didn’t explode. Instead, it splintered and tore open my chest. I couldn’t lift my right side. I lifted my rifle with my left hand and drifted in and out of consciousness,” says Varun.

There upon, the fellow marine commander rushed Varun to the Army Base hospital in Srinagar. The doctors discovered that Varun had more than 75 splinters embedded on the right side of his body and his right arm had been completely smashed. Varun’s right humerus(the bone that runs from shoulder to elbow) was in pieces. The shrapnel had even pierced his heart, which left Varun close to death.

The doctors, in spite of knowing there were little chances of Varun’s survival, operated on his heart to remove the shrapnel lodged inside, performed a middle lobe on his lung and grafted the bone from his left hip on to his right humerus. Even after taking such measures, there are more than 75 splinters still embedded in Varun Singh’s chest and right arm.

Varun spent two years in hospital with his hand paralysed for more than a year. Despite of the excruciating pain, Varun fought his injuries in a state that is hard to even imagine until his 3-year old daughter met him and he got his long held emotions overflowed.

“She sang me the Dhara oil ad – ‘My daddy is strongest’. It was the first time that I cried” said singh.

In 2001, Lt. Varun Singh was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for his exemplary courage and valour. He continued to serve the Navy with distinction.


Varun Singh’s newly commissioned unit will be crucial in safeguarding India’s vast maritime interests with the Indian Navy expanding in the region.

Shiv Aroor also tweeted few days back when he met the legend.

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