SRINAGAR: The gunfight started late on Sunday after security forces surrounded the village following a tip off that Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorists were hiding in the area.
Security forces in Kashmir killed a top commander of the Jaish-e-Mohammed suspected to have plotted last week’s terror attack in Pulwama that killed more than 40 CRPF soldiers. But Monday’s victory came at a heavy cost. Five jawans including an Army Major were killed and six more – a Brigadier, Captain and DIG-rank police officer – were injured in the 17-hour-long gunfight that started some time after midnight.
A joint team of the army’s Rashtriya Rifles and the state police were out on the streets of a village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama for a cordon and search operation. They had received a tip-off about the presence of Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists. The intelligence input had indicated that a top Jaish commander was one of them.
As the searches were going on, an army spokesman said terrorists from inside one house fired indiscriminately. In the initial burst of fire, five including four army jawans sustained gunshot injuries. They were moved out for medical attention but did not survive. Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal was one of them.
In the gunfight that followed, two terrorists were killed and their bodies retrieved. Police said one of them was Jaish’s Abdul Rashid Gazi, a Pakistani national who goes by the alias Kamran and is a Pakistani national. Hilal Ahmad, a local recruited by the terror group, was the second. By late evening, security sources said a third terrorist had also been killed but were yet to identify him.
Kamran is said to have been a key plotter of the terror attack that targeted a CRPF convoy on Thursday, nearly 15 km from today’s encounter site. News channel NDTV, quoting security sources, described him as a top aide of Jaish chief Masood Azhar and the Jaish’s “chief operational commander” who would recruit young men for the terror group. The news channel identified the second terrorist killed in the encounter as a local bomb specialist Hilal Ahmed.
Adil Ahmad Dar, the young Kashmiri man who drove a car packed with nearly 60 kg of explosives into the CRPF convoy and detonated the explosives, had died in the blast that left a trail of bodies of mangled steel. It was the deadliest single attack on security forces in Kashmir.
Jaish, the terror group that runs out of Pakistan, had rushed to claim responsibility for the attack. Pakistan government, which was severely criticized for giving terror groups a free run, denied it had anything to do with it. But New Delhi has firmly rejected the effort.
In retaliation for the bloody attack, India withdrew the most favoured nation status to Islamabad that allowed it to export goods, mostly fruits and cement, at low customs duty to India and imposed a prohibitive 200 per cent duty.__Hindustan Times