Narration by Ashish, Kshitij & Ravi Bharati Gupta.
Structure & Editing by Anupam

“So jayegi lipatkar tirange ke saath almari mein, deshbhakti hai sahab, taarikhon par jaagti hai”this was the last whatsapp status of Capt Tushar Mahajan – Awarded Shaurya Chakra – Posthumous on August 15, 2016

I, Aashish Rohal and many many more of his friends and well wishers – just can’t believe he’s no more. Martyr Capt Tushar Mahajan of the 9 Para regiment – A valiant soldier & an awesome friend – took 4 bullets on his chest during the Pampore attack on Feb 21, 2016 – fighting the terrorists, sacrificing his life to protect our motherland. He lived every word of his life he ever spoke about.

Determined to serve the nation, he cleared the SSB (Services Selection Board) exam in the very first attempt. When most his age aspire to be an engineer, a doctor or have a fancy management degree, he was preparing hard to join the Indian Army. He Joined NDA (National Defense Academy) in 2006 (batch 116).

Such was the passion in him, he knew which squadron he would join. He chose the Alpha squadron – all cadets in it are called ‘Apaches’. NDA to IMA (Indian Military Academy) in 2009 he finally got commissioned in June 2010.  The best of officers get to be in the Special Forces and Tushar was one of them, who opted to be in the Parachute Regiment and cleared the probation with flying colors even if he faced the toughest selection parameters (a known selection rate of less than 20%). Parachute Regiment is always in line of the fire, be it Jammu & Kashmir or North East part of India. He knew of course hence that he’ll be facing the enemy any time or be part of evacuation operations in the valley (Kashmir).

He was so desirous to kill terrorists, that he looked for opportunities to be sent on operations – that made him lead many such in the valley. Improvisation and implementing lessons learnt came naturally to him – this meticulous and specific approach had him always on the lookout of stuff that would help him be better at operations in the valley.

When it was not terrorists he was killing, he showed his skills on the basketball court – He was part of the team of K.V No 1 Udhampur and played a pivotal role in the finals which eventually the team won.

Tushar had his share of wisdom as well – being an avid reader – he read the Bhagwad Gita multiple times. He had a huge collection of books and always had plan to finish them by a certain time frame. Alas, one wish that remains unfulfilled.

He was loved by everyone and had large and varying friend groups – be it in the India Army or otherwise.

Another unfulfilled wish was to travel all of India. He asked me one day to tag along as he planned to go to the Hornbill festival. As fate would have it, due to certain reasons I could not make it. He went all alone accompanied by this enthusiasm and zeal for travel. He was my guide when I went for travel.

“The Buddy I knew”

Tushar in Kshitij Mishra’s words (Kshitij was Tushar’s roommate & BUDDY in the academy)

14th July, 2009, a summer less hot…..

After 44 days of passing out from the hallowed portals of the National Defense Academy (NDA), Pune, all the 260 Army cadets reported to Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, for our final year of this training, the last stretch of our journey to don the stars on our shoulders. The end of this year will earn each one of us two stars that will actually be a start to our Fauji career (as we call it).

During the day, the preliminary documentation had to be carried out. The companies were yet to be allotted. Then I came to know that we had to stay on a shared basis and hence I decided to check out of my curiousness that WHO after-all would be my partner?

And that was for the first time in my life that I saw the name GC Tushar Mahajan over the board. Who knew then that this association was going to be such a bromantic (the bros’ romance) one with the word Buddy becoming an integral part of our lives ahead!!!After little enquiry, I came to know that he was from the Alfa Squadron. Squadron: A word that is equal to the word Family in our dictionaries by now or may be more than that since for past three years all of us cried, bathed, ate and cherished everything together. At IMA, Squadron is equivalent of a Company. I always thought that India (my Squadron at NDA) and Alfa weren’t that far away and out of the 260 of us, I think he must have been the only one whom I hadn’t met or known during the three longest years of my life at NDA. Well…… I thought, let’s see who this Tushar is and since I couldn’t recollect even a bit of my association with him at NDA, I was even more curious to meet him.

So after I went to my room E-15 and started settling down. Unpacking my bags…..after a few moments, there was a knock on the door!!!  It was sign of a new arrival, Indeed!

As I opened the door, I saw a thin boy having a fair look, with the friendliest smile I had ever seen in my life. “Kshitij Mishra??”, he asked. I replied, “Yes, you must be Tushar Mahajn”. We shook hands, hugged each other (as this was a formal gesture at NDA to show that one has found a home away home) and then followed our initial introduction since we hardly knew each other despite being from the same at NDA. (Yes, that can happen, when you have 376 course-mates hence 376 faces and respective names to remember). During our conversation, I got to know that he belonged to Udhampur & had an elder brother. By the time that little intro-chat finished, that was already lunch time so we proceeded to the mess. That was the simplest beginning of a forever lasting bond, which became stronger everyday. And is getting intricate with each passing moment now when Mahajan Buddy is not with us anymore. The absence is only physical, I believe.

As I got to know him more, my liking and regards for him kept on increasing manifolds. A very simple guy, to whom you could go asking for help any time and you won’t return disappointed. An excellent cross country runner (ran about 12-13 kms run, conducted at IMA every six months as the Inter company competition), firer, sportsman and in academics too he was a genius. An all rounder in true sense you could say!!! We were exactly similar in terms of some habits and the most important out of those was laziness (in terms of who would get up first in the morning and wake the other one up. We even made a weekly schedule for the same but failed miserably to follow that and everyday would begin with “Buddy tu jaa pehle, kal meri baari thi”, being the common dialogue by both of us). And if we were similar in some habits, we were totally opposite in some. He loved to flirt with dangers, that risk taking capability of him inspite of knowing it would invite trouble (Punishments, well that’s what one ends up having!!! The more mess you create, the more Ps you get) was beyond my understandings. Whenever I would try and stop him he would just pat my back and say “Buddy, life enjoy kar, aise dar dar ke jeene ke liye life bahut chhoti hai, chal tu bhi aaja……….bahut maza aega”, to which I would politely deny saying “Nahi bhai tu hi kar”. If I would have known that my time with my-Buddy would be so short lived, then I would have ventured with him on all those small adventures for sure, like bunking a lecture and trying to catch some vital sleep in the room. Often, he got caught too, but as I said, he wasn’t the one who would fear the consequences! In the first six months our friendship had gone from being a fresh one to a very strong-unmatchable bond. We calling each other “Budddeeeeeee” had gone on to become quite popular among other course-mates in the company.

Time passed in his company so swiftly and so soon that the term came to an end in December and we bid good bye to each other and proceeded on a month long term break to our homes. In January, a horror awaited us upon our return to IMA. The rooms had been changed, even though still on a sharing basis, but that was an unexpected change. The horrifying part for me and Mahajan was that we were not room mates any more due to an order that No Ex-NDAs could be room-mates. Certainly the news damped the high spirits of seeing my buddy again after the term break. Both of us were sad, even tried to reason it with the SUO, CSM of our company (the appointments) but the orders were clear and there was no immediate way around it. But we had a plan which could not have been implemented immediately, so we waited for a month and a half to pass and at the very first opportunity, we were buddies again, this time our abode being C-5. That night we celebrated our rejuvenated buddyship with samosas, pastries and a 2 ltr bottle of Pepsi. (As cadets that was considered a big celebration).

The remaining three and a half months also passed and I got to know more-and-more about him as a person. He was a really caring soul who would go out of limit to make sure that you have no discomfort around him. The manner, in which he took care of me when I was down with fever for 5 days, just can’t be explained in words and then respect in my eyes grew even more. As happens in all relationships, all can’t be merry at all times, we too had our share of arguements, which were mostly due to his pet dialogue “Arey buddy, chhor na, koi fark nahi padta, sab moh maya hai”. Whenever he was sad, felt a bit down, and I will try to cheer him up, no matter what I said but he used to come up with his “Moh Maya” sentence that simply irked me and a small argument ensued and we didn’t speak, though, that duration never went beyond an hour, after which we would be back to our laughters in some of the other leg pulling ways. One habit of his always brings a smile on my face, even to this date whenever I remember it, even though the last memory of it was some 7 years ago. Whenever both of us would be walking together, discussing something and he would say something which I disagreed to, I would stop there while he would go ahead a few steps, talking in the same momentum and on realizing that I was left behind, he would come back and say “Yaar, buddy  tu chalte chalte ruka na kar, baato ka saraa flow kharab ho jata hai” and I would say “Accha aage se nhi karunga buddy” but I would repeat it many times, just to see that look on his face and be amused.

By the time we passed out from IMA, we were no more only buddies, the friendship and the strings attached were so strong that we could easily pass away as brothers in front of people meeting both of us for the first time, such was the bond, which formed hardly a year ago.

I met his parents on the Passing out day and since we (me and my parents) had planned a visit to Vaishno Devi after the Passing out Parade itself, I and buddy gave a twist to the plan so that we could extend the time we could spend together by a few more hours. Me, Tushar along with our families met at the Jammu Station the next day and there we decided to go to his house at Udhampur, from where we would be going to Vaishno Devi. He too came with us to Vaishno Devi and then came all the way to Jammu to see us off from the station. When I bid goodbye to him at the platform the reality finally struck, THIS WAS IT!!! no more fights as to who would wake up first everyday, no more going for runs together, camps together, meals together no more of seeing Tushar  everyday to cheer me up, and tears rolled down. After that emotional farewell on 15th June, 2010 at Jammu, with a promise to stay ‘buddieeeeees’ forever, we finally departed, embarking on our different journeys as newly commissioned Officers in the Indian Army. Sure about crossing paths in future, as they say it’s a small world and in that world Indian Army is even smaller.

I had opted for the Engineering branch in the army whereas he had volunteered for the Elite Special Forces where he was to undergo probation for three month, to check his suitability for joining the ‘9 Para SF Batallion’. His volunteering for the Special Forces probation came as a great surprise for all of us, not because he wasn’t suited for it, but because in the complete one year of training he had never mentioned about this desire of his.

I got posted in West Bengal and started learning the rules, traditions and etiquettes various facets of the Army as a Lieutenant and he started with his probation. We spoke to each other whenever managed to sneak an opportunity to get hold of a cell phone and call, since mobiles were not allowed during the probation period. Even in those tough conditions, sleep deprived, drained mentally and physically he never forgot to call me, whenever he could lay his hands on a cell phone, that’s how he was. Those 2-3 minute conversations were enough to keep our brotherhood alive.

Time passed and I was sent to an area with no mobile connectivity so I couldn’t speak to him for two month. When I got back to the area with mobile networks, I called him up, and came to know that he had successfully cleared his probation and was a part of ‘9PARA (SF)’. I could sense his happiness from his voice and I too was really happy for him as it is not an easy task to achieve what he had! That was in Oct 2010.

After that we remained in touch, speaking to each other whenever both of us could be in network at the same time. I will always come to know of one or the other news which will once again make me believe that he probably hasn’t been gifted with a heart from God. Man, he would simply not get scared with any operations and will explain the stories as if it was not about the bullets and bombs but some Diwali crackers, he was playing with. And perhaps that’s the only reason why such people are chosen over all to serve this Nation, to fight till your last breath and don’t let anyone harm the respect of a name called India.

I was really lucky to have met him on his birthday, 20th April, 2013 at Pune (he always used to say with proud that he shared his birthday with Hitler!!!). It was just by luck that he happened to be at Pune on his birthday and that too when I was there too. We met almost after three year, remembered old stories, laughed, celebrated his birthday and then he went back. That was the last time I saw my ‘Mahajan Buddy’ in flesh and blood. On 21st Feb, 2016, I came to know about the martyrdom of Capt. Tushar Mahajan of ‘9 PARA (SF)’ through the News channels and it felt as if something sank in my heart. Well….. one is ready to watch anything or everything over televisions but seeing your loved one losing his life is something you never want to see till you are alive. I tried reaching him on call, on whatsapp, SMS in a hope that the news channels might be wrong and there still might be some hope but there was no reply to anything. I immediately got my tickets booked to his home from my location but I was unfortunate enough that I could not be a part of his last journey as I was posted at such a place that in spite of my best efforts I could only reach Udhampur on  23rd Feb, 2016, my second visit to his house after June 2010,,,,, the only difference was that my Buddy wasn’t there with me, ready and smiling  to go to Vaishno Devi once again.

Capt. Tushar Mahajan was a man who wore his heart on his sleeve. If the phrase “Nerves of steel and a heart of gold” could epitomize a person, there would be no man more suitable than him to do so. I have been lucky enough to have known him, to have lived with him for a year, being his room-mate. To have helped him, to be helped by him and to have been his brother from another mother.

You will be missed BUDDEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Whenever at IMA I used to stop walking and you moved ahead to realize I wasn’t there, you used to come back. Today again, you have gone way ahead buddy, having etched your name in history and making all of us so proud of you. If only you could come back to me like those golden IMA times…………..life would be so awesome again.

MISS YOU TUSHAR MAHAJAN !!!!!! R.I.P BUDDYYYYY!!!!!!!!

The last chat (Feb 2, 2016)–

Tushar’s last converstion with Ravi Bharati Gupta – Tushar’s close uncle. Chhotu as fondly rememberd by Ravi.. Tushar wanted a cruiser – a top end one. Alas.. another wish left unfulfilled

Even though there were tons of snazzy sports bikes around, all he wanted was a cruiser.Not a guy to settle for anything less in life – be it bike or his dream to defend the nation. Some dreams fulfilled, some left in between.

Ravi fondly recollects Tushar’s belief  in the concept of “Time and space” - per him things fall in place at the right time for the right folks in the right way… leaves us wondering, did he really think a little too ahead than his own fate?

The last chat 07/02/16, 4:59 pm IST -

RIP Tushar,

God bless your soul.

14 th July, 2009, a summer less hot…..
After 44 days of passing out from the hallowed portals of the National Defence Academy (NDA),
Pune, all the 260 Army cadets reported to Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, for our
final year of this training, the last stretch of our journey to don the stars on our shoulders. The
end of this year will earn each one of us two stars that will actually be a start to our Fauji career
(as we call it).
During the day, the preliminary documentation had to be carried out. The companies were yet
to be allotted. Then I came to know that we had to stay on a shared basis and hence I decided
to check out of my curiousness that WHO after-all would be my partner?
And that was for the first time in my life that I saw the name GC Tushar Mahajan over the
board. Who knew then that this association was going to be such a bromantic (the bros’
romance) one with the word Buddy becoming an integral part of our lives ahead!!!After little
enquiry, I came to know that he was from the Alfa Squadron. Squadron: A word that is equal to
the word Family in our dictionaries by now or may be more than that since for past three years
all of us cried, bathed, ate and cherished everything together. At IMA, Squadron is equivalent of
a Company. I always thought that India (my Squadron at NDA) and Alfa weren’t that far away
and out of the 260 of us, I think he must have been the only one whom I hadn’t met or known
during the three longest years of my life at NDA. Well…… I thought, let’s see who this Tushar is
and since I couldn’t recollect even a bit of my association with him at NDA, I was even more
curious to meet him.
So after I went to my room E-15 and started settling down. Unpacking my bags…..after a few
moments, there was a knock on the door!!! It was sign of a new arrival, Indeed!
As I opened the door, I saw a thin boy having a fair look, with the friendliest smile I had ever
seen in my life. “Kshitij Mishra??”, he asked. I replied, “Yes, you must be Tushar Mahajn”. We
shook hands, hugged each other (as this was a formal gesture at NDA to show that one has
found a home away home) and then followed our initial introduction since we hardly knew
each other despite being from the same at NDA. (Yes, that can happen, when you have 376
course-mates hence 376 faces and respective names to remember). During our conversation, I
got to know that he belonged to Udhampur & had an elder brother. By the time that little intro-
chat finished, that was already lunch time so we proceeded to the mess. That was the simplest
beginning of a forever lasting bond, which became stronger everyday. And is getting intricate
with each passing moment now when Mahajan Buddy is not with us anymore. The absence is
only physical, I believe.
As I got to know him more, my liking and regards for him kept on increasing manifolds. A very
simple guy, to whom you could go asking for help any time and you won’t return disappointed.
An excellent cross country runner (ran about 12-13 kms run, conducted at IMA every six
months as the Inter company competition), firer, sportsman and in academics too he was a
genius. An all rounder in true sense you could say!!! We were exactly similar in terms of some
habits and the most important out of those was laziness (in terms of who would get up first in
the morning and wake the other one up. We even made a weekly schedule for the same but
failed miserably to follow that and everyday would begin with “Buddy tu jaa pehle, kal meri
baari thi”, being the common dialogue by both of us). And if we were similar in some habits, we
were totally opposite in some. He loved to flirt with dangers, that risk taking capability of him
inspite of knowing it would invite trouble (Punishments, well that’s what one ends up having!!!
The more mess you create, the more Ps you get) was beyond my understandings. Whenever I
would try and stop him he would just pat my back and say “Buddy, life enjoy kar, aise dar dar ke
jeene ke liye life bahut chhoti hai, chal tu bhi aaja……….bahut maza aega”, to which I would
politely deny saying “Nahi bhai tu hi kar”. If I would have known that my time with my-Buddy
would be so short lived, then I would have ventured with him on all those small adventures for
sure, like bunking a lecture and trying to catch some vital sleep in the room. Often, he got
caught too, but as I said, he wasn’t the one who would fear the consequences! In the first six
months our friendship had gone from being a fresh one to a very strong-unmatchable bond. We
calling each other “Budddeeeeeee” had gone on to become quite popular among other course-
mates in the company.
Time passed in his company so swiftly and so soon that the term came to an end in December
and we bid good bye to each other and proceeded on a month long term break to our homes.
In January, a horror awaited us upon our return to IMA. The rooms had been changed, even
though still on a sharing basis, but that was an unexpected change. The horrifying part for me
and Mahajan was that we were not room mates any more due to an order that No Ex-NDAs
could be room-mates. Certainly the news damped the high spirits of seeing my buddy again
after the term break. Both of us were sad, even tried to reason it with the SUO, CSM of our
company (the appointments) but the orders were clear and there was no immediate way
around it. But we had a plan which could not have been implemented immediately, so we
waited for a month and a half to pass and at the very first opportunity, we were buddies again,
this time our abode being C-5. That night we celebrated our rejuvenated buddyship with
samosas, pastries and a 2 ltr bottle of Pepsi. (As cadets that was considered a big celebration).
The remaining three and a half months also passed and I got to know more-and- more about
him as a person. He was a really caring soul who would go out of limit to make sure that you
have no discomfort around him. The manner, in which he took care of me when I was down
with fever for 5 days, just can’t be explained in words and then respect in my eyes grew even
more. As happens in all relationships, all can’t be merry at all times, we too had our share of
arguements, which were mostly due to his pet dialogue “Arey buddy, chhor na, koi fark nahi
padta, sab moh maya hai”. Whenever he was sad, felt a bit down, and I will try to cheer him up,
no matter what I said but he used to come up with his “Moh Maya” sentence that simply irked
me and a small argument ensued and we didn’t speak, though, that duration never went
beyond an hour, after which we would be back to our laughters in some of the other leg pulling
ways. One habit of his always brings a smile on my face, even to this date whenever I
remember it, even though the last memory of it was some 7 years ago. Whenever both of us
would be walking together, discussing something and he would say something which I
disagreed to, I would stop there while he would go ahead a few steps, talking in the same
momentum and on realizing that I was left behind, he would come back and say “Yaar, buddy
tu chalte chalte ruka na kar, baato ka saraa flow kharab ho jata hai” and I would say “Accha
aage se nhi karunga buddy” but I would repeat it many times, just to see that look on his face
and be amused.
By the time we passed out from IMA, we were no more only buddies, the friendship and the
strings attached were so strong that we could easily pass away as brothers in front of people
meeting both of us for the first time, such was the bond , which formed hardly an year ago.
I met his parents on the Passing out day and since we (me and my parents) had planned a visit
to Vaishno Devi after the Passing out Parade itself, I and buddy gave a twist to the plan so that
we could extend the time we could spend together by a few more hours. Me, Tushar along with
our families met at the Jammu Station the next day and there we decided to go to his house at
Udhampur, from where we would be going to Vaishno Devi. He too came with us to Vaishno
Devi and then came all the way to Jammu to see us off from the station. When I bid goodbye to
him at the platform the reality finally struck, THIS WAS IT!!! no more fights as to who would
wake up first everyday, no more going for runs together, camps together, meals together no
more of seeing Tushar everyday to cheer me up, and tears rolled down. After that emotional
farewell on 15 th June, 2010 at Jammu, with a promise to stay ‘buddieeeeees’ forever, we finally
departed, embarking on our different journeys as newly commissioned Officers in the Indian
Army. Sure about crossing paths in future, as they say it’s a small world and in that world Indian
Army is even smaller.
I had opted for the Engineering branch in the army whereas he had volunteered for the Elite
Special Forces where he was to undergo probation for three month, to check his suitability for
joining the ‘9 Para SF Batallion’. His volunteering for the Special Forces probation came as a
great surprise for all of us, not because he wasn’t suited for it, but because in the complete one
year of training he had never mentioned about this desire of his.
I got posted in West Bengal and started learning the rules, traditions and etiquettes various
facets of the Army as a Lieutenant and he started with his probation. We spoke to each other
whenever managed to sneak an opportunity to get hold of a cell phone and call, since mobiles
were not allowed during the probation period. Even in those tough conditions, sleep deprived,
drained mentally and physically he never forgot to call me, whenever he could lay his hands on
a cell phone, that’s how he was. Those 2-3 minute conversations were enough to keep our
brotherhood alive.
Time passed and I was sent to an area with no mobile connectivity so I couldn’t speak to him for
two month. When I got back to the area with mobile networks, I called him up, and came to
know that he had successfully cleared his probation and was a part of ‘9PARA (SF)’. I could
sense his happiness from his voice and I too was really happy for him as it is not an easy task to
achieve what he had! That was in Oct 2010.
After that we remained in touch, speaking to each other whenever both of us could be in
network at the same time. I will always come to know of one or the other news which will once
again make me believe that he probably hasn’t been gifted with a heart from God. Man, he
would simply not get scared with any operations and will explain the stories as if it was not
about the bullets and bombs but some Diwali crackers, he was playing with. And perhaps that’s
the only reason why such people are chosen over all to serve this Nation, to fight till your last
breath and don’t let anyone harm the respect of a name called India.
I was really lucky to have met him on his birthday, 20 th April, 2013 at Pune (he always used to
say with proud that he shared his birthday with Hitler!!!). It was just by luck that he happened
to be at Pune on his birthday and that too when I was there too. We met almost after three
year, remembered old stories, laughed, celebrated his birthday and then he went back. That
was the last time I saw my ‘Mahajan Buddy’ in flesh and blood. On 21 st Feb, 2016, I came to
know about the martyrdom of Capt. Tushar Mahajan of ‘9 PARA (SF)’ through the News
channels and it felt as if something sank in my heart. Well….. one is ready to watch anything or
everything over televisions but seeing your loved one losing his life is something you never
want to see till you are alive. I tried reaching him on call, on whatsapp, SMS in a hope that the
news channels might be wrong and there still might be some hope but there was no reply to
anything. I immediately got my tickets booked to his home from my location but I was
unfortunate enough that I could not be a part of his last journey as I was posted at such a place
that in spite of my best efforts I could only reach Udhampur on 23 rd Feb, 2016, my second visit
to his house after June 2010,,,,, the only difference was that my Buddy wasn’t there with
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