Kashmir Police IG Vijay Kumar said one of the two terrorists killed in the Handwara encounter is a top Lashkar commander Haider

An eerie silence enveloped Uttar Pradesh’s Parwana Mahmodpur, the native village of Colonel Ashutosh Sharma on Sunday as news broke of his death in an anti-terror operation in Jammu and Kashmir’s Handwara.

Almost every villager visited the Braveheart’s paternal house as the news spread.

Colonel Sharma’s uncle Dinesh Chandra Pathak said that they came to know about the tragic news through some relatives at about 8 am.

Villagers in Parwana Memoodpur in Bulandshahr gather to mourn Col Ashutosh Sharma

Remembering Sharma as a handsome, simple and amiable person, his cousin Lokesh Pathak said he visited the village nearly a year-and-a-half ago to take part in the rituals after their grandmother’s death.

He completed his graduation from Bulandshahr. Since childhood, he nurtured the dream of joining the army and he did so, said his uncle Dinesh.

Colonel Sharma, 45, who is survived by his wife and a 12-year-old daughter, was twice awarded the Sena Medal for gallantry.

Although his family shifted to Jaipur, where his elder brother Piyush lives with their mother and other family members after the death of his father seven years ago, their other relatives still live in the village, said Nand Lal Pathak, another uncle of the officer.

“Initially it was thought that the last rites would be performed here but now it has been decided that the last rites will take place in Jaipur,” Pathak said.

He has approached the district administration to issue passes to them so that they could go to Jaipur to attend the last rites of his nephew.

Colonel Sharma was the younger son of the late Shambhu Dutt Pathak, who was a soil conservation officer, and Sudha Pathak.

Colonel Sharma, the commanding officer of 21 Rashtriya Rifles unit, and four others laid down their lives in a military operation earlier in the day. Other army men killed in the encounter include Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh Kumar and Lance Naik Dinesh Singh. Sub-inspector Shakeel Qazi of Jammu and Kashmir police was also killed in the operation.