5 brave security personnel offered ultimate sacrifice for the nation when they were ambushed while securing release of ‘hostages’ taken by terrorists in Kashmir. Two terrorists were also killed. The martyrs included a colonel, a major, a JK police sub inspector, and two Army jawans.
Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, a native of Bulandshahr UP, was leading the operation. He was a decorated army office, being the only commanding officer to receive the prestigious Sena Medal twice for gallantry during counter-terrorist operations. The Colonel commanding the 21 Rashtriya Rifles unit on deputation – a specialized anti-terror unit located in North Kashmir – was apparently hit in the first volley of fire.
The gun-battle ensued when a joint team of Army and J&K police launched a search operation in Chanjimulla Handwara, north of Srinagar area on Saturday evening after receiving inputs about presence of terrorists there. The terrorists had allegedly taken the few civilians of Handwara as hostage, the defence spokesperson said. The Armymen and the cops, who took on the terrorists during the fierce gunfight that lasted the whole night, lost five personnel including Colonel Ashutosh Sharma and Major Anuj and a J&K police Sub-Inspector. A few jawans have also been injured, the spokesperson added.
Of the two slain terrorists, one is reportedly identified as Haider, a Pak national working for Lashkar-e-Taiba in Kashmir for the past couple of years , and the identity of the other terrorist is being ascertained. The encounter ended in the early hours of Sunday after arrival of reinforcement troops.
“A team comprising of five Army and JK Police personnel entered the target area occupied by the terrorists to evacuate civilians. The team of Army and JK Police entered the the target area and successfully extricated the civilians. However, during the process, the team was subjected to heavy volume of fire by the terrorists. In the ensuing fire fight two terrorists were eliminated and the team of five army and JK personnel comprising of two Army officers, two Army soldiers and one JK Police Sub Inspector attained martyrdom,” an official statement read.
The martyred JK police officer Shakeel Kazi was also a brave-heart who had been in many counter terrorism operations and was rewarded with three out-of-turn promotions and also honored with Police Medal for Gallantry in 2011, Sher-i-Kashmir Police Medal for Gallantry in 2009, besides DGP Commendation Medal and GOC-in-C, Northern Command Commendation Disc.
Prime Minister Modi paid his tribute to the martyrs through a tweet. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday described the loss as “deeply disturbing and painful”. UP Chief Minister Yogi has announced Rs 50 lakh for the family of Col Sharma. A wreath-laying ceremony was held in Srinagar after which the Col Sharma’s body would be flown to his home in Bulandshahr.
This is the second major blow to the Army in the last one month. In early April, five commandos of the elite 4 Para-SF battalion laid down their lives while fighting terrorist infiltrators from Pakistan in the Keran sector in north Kashmir. They were identified as Subedar Sanjeev Kumar, Havildar Davendra Singh and paratroopers Bal Krishan, Amit Kumar and Chhatrapal Singh. 5 terrorists too were killed in that encounter.
Some observers have raised the possibility of the security forces being lured by the terrorists in connivance with informers & local civilians, in the Handwara encounter. Others have questioned why Indian Army refuses to use air assets like helicopter gunships to take out terrorist hideouts, as is the norm in counter-terror operations across the world. Army and government’s hands are likely tied in this matter due to the foreign-funded human rights lobby and left-liberal ecosystem which exerts powerful influence on judiciary.
In the past too, there have been many instances where radicalised civilians have surrounded encounter spots and pelted stones on security forces in order to facilitate escape of trapped terrorists. Such instances show the urgent need of a de-radicalisation program for all youth in the Kashmir valley.
Many terror apologists on social media were seen celebrating the death of the brave-heart soldiers. Far-left propaganda website The Wire cast doubt on the entire operation itself by claiming the two terrorists killed were ‘alleged’ terrorists. The security establishment needs to deal with this internal fifth column with a firm hand.
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