SRINAGAR: The encounter in north Kashmir’s Handwara which began on Friday morning ended 54 hours later Sunday noon with security forces killing two terrorists, one of who was a Pakistani. Three CRPF personnel, two Jammu and Kashmir policemen and a civilian were also killed in the three-day encounter.
“Bodies of both the terrorists were recovered from the site of encounter,” the Jammu and Kashmir police spokesman Manoj Kumar said in a statement. “One jawan of CRPF identified as Sham Narayan Singh Yadav who was injured earlier has attained martyrdom.”
IG CRPF (operations), Zulfiquar Hassan said that the CRPF jawan succumbed on Saturday night increasing the death toll of security forces to five. A civilian was also killed during the gun battle on the first day.
DIG north Kashmir M Suleman Choudhary said that they have identified one of the terrorists who is a Lashkar-e-Taiba militant from Pakistan. “His code name is Kabullah while we are ascertaining the identity of second terrorist,” he said.
Police said the operation posed considerable difficulties to the security forces due to the topography of the area. “Area where the terrorists were hiding was very congested and civilians in the adjoining houses had to be evacuated to the safer places away from the site of encounter,” the statement said.
DIG Choudhary said that the area was largely built up and congested. “There are many lanes and by-lanes. Our approach has been to exercise restraint to avoid damage or any civilian causality. That is why it took time,” he said. “We evacuated all the civilians. Every home was searched so that nobody is left behind and then operation was started”.
Police also claimed that incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of encounter. “Incriminating materials retrieved from the site of encounter have been taken in the case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other terror cases.”
The death toll of the security forces rose to five with a CRPF trooper succumbing to his injuries Saturday night.
A civilian was also killed in the gun battle on the first day. The operation at Baba Gund area of Kralgund in Handwara, 72 km north of Srinagar had started on Friday. A militant presumed to be dead emerged from the rubble of a house opened fire and inflicted casualities on security forces.
Two CRPF personnel and two police men were killed on Friday during the encounter which started after police, army and CRPF cordoned Baba Gund area after information about the presence of militants.
“As the searches were going on, the terrorists fired indiscriminately on the search party. In the process, two police personnel, two CRPF personnel and one individual sustained critical injuries and succumbed,” a police spokesman said.
The two police personnel were identified as Naseer Ahmad Kholi and Ghulam Mustafa Barah and two CRPF personnel have been identified as Inspector Pintu and constable Vinod.
Kholi is survived by his parents, wife, a daughter, 4, and a toddler son. Barah left behind his aged mother, wife and two daughters and two sons.
The spokesman said that an individual identified as Waseem Ahmad Mir also sustained bullet injury and died at a hospital. Locals said that security forces used pellets and bullets to disperse protesters near the site of encounter.
On Sunday again, villagers around Baba Gund threw stones on security forces as they were carrying out final searches at the site of the gunfight.
They said that a few houses and cattle sheds have been damaged in the encounter. The locals said that the area is congested making it easy for militants to shift nearby houses.
On February 18, in a major operation against the Jaish-e-Mohammad leadership, three top militants, including two Pakistanis, were killed in south Kashmir’s Pulwama. Four army personnel, including a major, and a policeman were killed in that encounter.
The JeM militants were killed within 100 hours of a suicide bomb attack on a CRPF convoy in Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF personnel on February 14. Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack, which was done by a local, who rammed a explosive-laden car into a bus carrying the personnel.
Since the attack, 13 militants (11 from JeM and 2 from LeT) have been killed in various encounters across the Valley while security forces have lost four policemen including a DSP, six army jawans including a major and three CRPF men, including an inspector in these gunfights.__Hindustan Times