Remembering Capt. Asheem Kumar Bhattacharjee
N. Francis Xavier
More than fifteen years ago a young man came to my office with his father. He was to send his application for SSB but the last date was over. He had a ‘C’ Certificate from NCC Army. I was officiating as Station Commander NCC that time. Seeing his enthusiasm I prepared a long letter recommending his case for consideration on account of the remoteness of the
Islands and the frequent postal delays. I asked him to send his
application along with the letter.
That was the last time I saw him alive.
The young man was Asheem Kumar Bhattacharjee, a student of M.Sc., Chemistry in JNRM. His father was a well-known teacher. I heard that he was selected and commission into the Gurkhas.
On 20 July 2000 a shocked Dr. Rath informed me that Capt. Asheem was killed in an encounter with militants in the Uri sector. We rushed to his house in Prem Nagar to convey our condolences to the distraught parents. Then we met Hon’ble LG Shri IP Gupta who was very much upset at the news. He wanted to know when the body will be brought to Port Blair and visited the house to pay his respects. He also wanted a memorial to be built in memory of Capt. Bhattacharjee in JNRM and personally visited the college to select the site.
My memory is not clear but the body was brought by services aircraft two or three days later. The army unit in Birch gunj took over the funeral arrangements. With great sorrow I attended the funeral of Capt. Asheem. An officer who accompanied the body, a young Lieutenant narrated how Capt. Bhattacharjee, in charge of a Ghatak platoon charged the militants and shot down two of them before he was mortally wounded. He was bleeding heavily from the wound during the evacuation and in great pain but refused to take morphine. By the time he could get medical help it was too late.
When I think of it sometimes I feel guilty. Perhaps he would have been alive still if his application was not accepted due to late submission. But then, we would not have had our own hero, an inspiration for so many of our NCC cadets who wish to join the armed forces in the service of the Motherland.
Dule et decorum est pro patria mori
It is sweet and right to die for your country