In the Handwara Encounter, in Kupwara, North Kashmir, 4 Indian Army personnel from the decorated Rashtriya Rifles (RR) were killed which included the commanding officer of the unit – Col Ashutosh Sharma.
With the martyrdom Col Sharma, Col Singh is likely to take over the reins of the counter-insurgency. As per reports in TOI, six other officers from the Guards Regiment displayed no hesitation in immediately volunteering when the call was made by their senior-most regimental officer, Lt-General Iqroop Singh Ghuman said, who presently heads the Central Army Command.
“Col Singh, who is from 11 Guards, will stabilize the 21 Rashtriya Rifles and see it through the summer till a new Commanding Officer can be appointed,” he added.
This was only the second time that 21 Rashtriya Rifles had lost its Commanding Officer. Earlier, in August 2000, Colonel Rajinder Chauhan, his sector commander Brigadier B S Shergill and another soldier were killed in an IED blast in the same Kupwara district of North Kashmir.
Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported, the team of five that were killed in the line of duty included four soldiers from 21 Rashtriya Rifles comprising Col Ashutosh Sharma (CO), Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh Kumar, Lance Naik Dinesh Singh, and J&K Police Sub-Inspector Shakeel Qazi.
The Rashtriya Rifles is Indian Army’s elite counter-insurgency unit has been the backbone of operations in the militancy-hit regions of Jammu and Kashmir and has been at the forefront of ferociously battling insurgency in the region.