Service No: MR-5013

Date of Birth: Oct 1,1958

Service: Army

Last Rank : Major

Unit: 93 Fd Regt/AMC

Arm/Regt : Army Medical Corps

Operation : Op Pawan

Date of Martyrdom : Nov 03, 1987

Major Ashwini Kumar Kanva VSM

Major Ashwini Kumar Kanva was born on October 1st, 1958 in Delhi. Born in a simple God-fearing and Arya Samaji family, his father Mr Amolak Kanva retired as a Principal of a School in Delhi. Maj Ashwini Kumar completed his medical education from Delhi medical college and joined the Indian Army in November 1982. Maj Ashwini joined the Armed Medical Corps of the Army as Captain and later was promoted to the rank of Major in May 1987.

 

After being commissioned in the Army his first posting was to a unit located in high altitude area of Ladakh, where he worked for 3 years. Later , he was attached to 93 Field Regiment based at Secundrabad. When Op Pawan was launched consequent to Indo-Sri Lankan accord in July 1987 , Maj Ashwini  proceeded to Sri Lanka as part of the IPKF along with his unit on October 25, 1987.

 

Op Pawan : 03 Nov 1987

 

The IPKF launched its first operation on 9 October 1987 after formulating a multi-pronged strategy to take on LTTE. Code-named Operation Op Pawan, it was expected to neutralize LTTE operational capability in and around Jaffna. This included the capture or neutralization of the LTTE’s chain of command, which was expected to leave the rebel movement directionless in the face of the impending assault on the LTTE strongholds by the IPKF. After the attack by the IPKF comprising soldiers of 13 Sikh LI, 4/5 GR and 10 Para on Jaffna university on 12 Oct 1987, the relations with the LTTE reached the breaking point and their fighters launched a series of attacks against Indian soldiers. By Nov 1987, IPKF had wrested control of parts of Jaffna but the skirmishes were continuing in various parts. Maj Ashwini Kumar Kanva was one of the very few medical officers deployed in the battle field and had his hands full, treating a large number of causalities arsing due to continuous fighting.

 

On 03 Nov 1987, Maj Kanva was busy providing medical help to injured soldiers in the Army camp on the outskirts of Jaffna. As Maj Kanva was tending to a patient,  he was shot by an LTTE sniper from a very close range. The assassin had gained entry into the camp pretending to be a patient and fired at him in a dastardly act. Maj Kanva succumbed to his injuries and was martyred.  Maj Kanva was a dedicated soldier and fine officer who laid down his life in the line of duty in the highest traditions of the Indian Army.  He was awarded “Vishisht Seva Medal” for his courage and devotion to duty of a very high order.

Tribute by his friend Col AK Mehta (Retd) :

 

Maj Ashwini was one of my closest friends, who sacrificed his life in Sri Lanka while providing treatment to a patient during Op Pawan on 03 Nov 1987. Posted with 93 Fd Regt at that time, he was shot by an LTTE sniper. There cannot be a more dastardly act than killing a doctor delivering life saving treatment to a patient on battlefield.

 

We (Ashwini & myself) prepared for Medical entrance examination together and joined the same Medical College. We were perfect companion to each other all through our college days. Our interests too matched like our first names. The decision to join the Army was also taken together & we joined the Army on the same day at Army Base Hospital, Delhi Cantt on 12 Nov 1982. He was a perfect friend, a perfect son, a perfect brother, perfect soldier, and a perfect human being.

 

I have seen his parents and other family members trying hard to overcome his untimely loss and suffer even today. I hope there is a greater realisation among all Indians to appreciate the sacrifice of our soldiers like Maj Kanva. Before he received orders to move to Sri Lanka, as if he had an inkling about his death, he spent adequate time with me & Maj (now Maj Gen) DV Singh, all three of us being closest friends. We spent the last night before his departure talking for hours and that turned out to be our last meeting.

 

When I heard about his martyrdom in Sri Lanka, I was shattered and refused to believe it for some time. That feeling which tugs at my heartstrings even now, is very difficult to describe in words. As we had been largely following the same path in our lives, I also went to Sri Lanka as part of the IPKF. There, I got the opportunity to meet his unit personnel, who had a lot to tell about their comrade, a committed soldier and an officer par excellence.

 

Truly, soldiers never die. Even after 31 yrs, he is still alive in our hearts. Ashwini you were a true and dearest friend and will always remain so, as long as I live.

 

Jai Hind!

 

 

Tribute by his friend Dr (Maj Gen) D V Singh & Mrs Neeru Singh : 

 

My friend Maj Ashwini has a special place in my life. Our friendship dates back to 1975 when we were part of a group of five close friends striving to become medical doctors. What brought us together were not only the circumstances but also the core values of profound national spirit and the immense respect for the Armed Forces in general.

 

We finished our graduation in Medicine and planned to join the Armed Forces as doctors. Soon three of us (and later one more of us joined the Indian Air Force) were commissioned officers in the Indian Army and left Delhi for military training in Lucknow at the Army Medical Corps Center & College.

 

During the military training, we took abundant interest in the small arms training, being passionate about accurate shooting and would exchange our experiences on various issues related to training at the end of each training day. All three of us were adventure-loving and daring officers who would accept any difficult situations and challenges with great elan. With the military training coming to an end we were mentally prepared to be separated from each other and were posted out to different geographical terrains in field areas wide apart in different corners of the country.

 

Ashwini got posted to the GREF in Ladakh as a medical officer. As part of his duty to look after the health and infirmity of the GREF personnel including the civilian labor he had to travel many hours daily in the high altitude through snowbound areas. This apparently was a great satisfaction to his adventurous spirit and appetite and he enjoyed it thoroughly.

 

On one such occasion, he was engaged in an operation related to the rescuing and treatment of his comrades injured due to the collapse and repairs of part of the bridge at Khardungla, the highest motorable pass of the world. He was awarded the coveted “Vishisht Seva Medal” for the exceptional act of devotion to duty as a young captain. He was a daring but principled officer always willing to share extra responsibility looking at each opportunity as a fresh challenge to the soldier in him.

 

After his victory over the snowy peaks, he was posted as a Regimental Medical Officer with the 93 Field Regiment, a unit of gunners located in the plains in the southern part of the country. I too was now posted and living with my wife Neeru in our first ever home in the official army residence at Dehradun after our marriage. The peace posting saw the prospects of marriage for Ashwini too and he along with our other army friend from the group of five, Maj Ashwini Mehta visited us at our home in Dehradun, while he had come to meet a prospective life partner for himself at Roorkee. He had not been able to attend our wedding and this was, therefore, the first time that my wife Neeru happened to meet him.

 

He was destined to undergo yet more stringent tests, trials and triumphs of his soldiering capabilities. As an IPKF initiative in Srilanka, his unit was inducted to participate in the ‘Op Pawan’ and reached Jaffna in Oct 1987. On that fateful day of 3rd Nov 1987, he was immortalized with the ultimate test and triumph in the service of his motherland. The brave son of Mother India was martyred when a burst of fire by the LTTE snipers hit him while attending to a wounded officer of his regiment following a skirmish with the terrorists of the LTTE. He was the only doctor available over a span of many miles to attend to the sick and injured Indian Army soldiers and local civilians. So when he fell to the multiple bullets fired from the automatic weapons by the enemy, the brave-heart, who was engaged in saving the lives and limbs of others, could do nothing to save himself and succumbed to the uncontrollable bleeding.

 

Personally, for both of us, it was a heart-shattering and shocking blow. I and my wife were at Pune while I was attending an important course at AFMC. As soon as I learnt of the tragedy I left my classes and returned back to inform Neeru of the unbelievable loss. We were never to see Ashwini again in our life. And thus an obedient son, an affectionate brother and a great friend was lost in his youth while performing his duty to save the life of a comrade, fearlessly daring the enemy snipers.

 

We miss him in person but remember him fondly for his affectionate ways, respectful demeanor, and daring personality.

 

Jai hind..!

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10 Comments
  • Ashok Kumar

    2017 at 5:58 pm Reply

    I salute you and your family for the sacrifice.

  • Dr T S Daral

    2019 at 1:16 pm Reply

    Ashwini was my classmate in Pre-Medical. He was such a jolly good fellow.
    We were a group of 4-5 friends who used to meet frequently and had lot of fun together. I even inspired him to join gym and we used to exercise in the gym together. His contribution towards IPKF in Sri Lanka is unparalled and will always be remembered with pride.

    • Bharat Mathur

      2019 at 1:15 pm

      Could you share his parents contact no or address. We are in Delhi and want to meet their parents.

      Thank you
      Bharat Mathur

  • AJAY BHATIA

    2019 at 7:47 am Reply

    Shaheed kabhi Marta nahi
    Vo paida hota rehta hai
    Or Desh par Shaheed
    Hota rehta hai . Asli Insaan yahin hai jo Desh par qurban ho kar aapna jivan Safal banate hai .is se bada koi sacrifice ho nahi Sakta Varna log kide makodo ki tarah paida hote hai or mar jaate hai .
    Shaheed kabhi Marta nahin.

  • Bharat Mehta

    2020 at 7:54 pm Reply

    A great personality! Army is one of the most important body for the Defense system. Contribution to this system is not just unbelievable but unimaginable. I salute you & your family.
    I’m also part of his friends group.

  • Dr Rakesh Taneja

    2020 at 10:14 am Reply

    Dr Ashwini was one batch my senior in medical college. He was a simple, hard working person with a wonderful nature. UCMS doctors remember his martyrdom and salute him.
    A big salute to his family for their tremendous sacrifice for the nation.

  • atul kochhar

    2021 at 10:07 pm Reply

    SALUTE the valour f the Doctor during OP PAWAN !!

  • Rajesh Sobti

    2023 at 10:13 am Reply

    Inspiration for all medical professionals, salute to him

  • SATYAVIR SINGHAL

    2023 at 10:29 am Reply

    Wonderful human being
    Studied together in medical school from 1976. A hard working and simple guy. Will always be remembered and respected . An inspiration for the young soldiers

  • Dr Prem Bajaj

    2023 at 11:19 am Reply

    All salutes to the college mate Major Ashwani – aap saada Amar hain – Jai Hind

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