Major Akshay Girish: Remembering the 2016 J&K attack martyr
"If life is not measured in the number of breaths taken, but in moments that take our breath away, Akshay lived much longer than most others," said Major Akshay Girish's mother, Meghna. Akshay was an officer with Indian Army's 51 Engineer Regiment of the Bengal Sappers. He was martyred while neutralizing terrorists, who had entered Nagrota's Army camp, disguised as police-personnel on 29th November'16.
Akshay had demonstrated a fighting spirit early in life
Akshay comes from a family of armymen. His father retired as a Wing Commander and his grandfather as a Colonel of the Garhwalis regiment. Meghna recalls Akshay was a sickly, underweight baby. Unlike his twin sister Neha, Akshay began walking and talking really late. He also suffered from bouts of high fever, respiratory systems and broncho-pneumonia when about 5-months old.
His dreams of becoming IAF pilot crushed, Akshay joined Army
In school, Akshay took an interest in sports, drawing and writing poetry. However, very early on, Akshay was focused on becoming an IAF pilot. With this aim, he joined the Bangalore Military School. After clearing the NDA entrance, Akshay went for an advanced eye check-up. Unfortunately, he was deemed unfit as per IAF's stringent medical standards. Thereafter, he decided to join the army.
Though he found the NDA life tough, Akshay ventured on!
Along with the stress of his "long-cherished" dream of becoming a fighter pilot being crushed, the constant physical and academic tests took a toll on Akshay. He even considered leaving NDA. However, he ventured on to become one of the top performers. After training, Akshay reportedly served at Nagaland, Pune, Chandigarh and J&K. His wife and daughter were with him for his Nagrota posting.
The Nagrota attack: How did it unfold?
Under the cover of darkness, terrorists dressed in J&K police uniforms stormed the 166 Medium Regiment premises. At 5am, they hurled grenades and began firing indiscriminately at the sentry post. Akshay, who was in the neighboring Engineers unit, was sure there was something fishy as a practice drill was not announced. He was soon summoned to lead the Quick Reaction Team (QRT).
Akshay laid down his life, saving hostages
Once they reached the site, despite taking heavy firing, Akshay and his team saved hostages. However, the team could not fire indiscriminately into the residential blocks, lest they kill unarmed officers and their families. Thus, they began entering the blocks. Leading from the front, Akshay was struck down by bullets by a hidden terrorist. He also charged a grenade at Akshay, killing him.
How do family and friends remember Akshay?
Akshay's mother has written moving accounts about how they are coping with his loss. In a poignant Facebook post, wife Sangeetha admitted, "I haven't washed his regimental jacket. It still smells of him." Friends remember the 31-year old as being vocal about issues facing the armed forces like 'One Rank One Pension (OROP)', among others. Your memories live on, Major Akshay.