Army jawan dies, hostage rescued in J&K encounter

The Asian Age.  | Yusuf Jameel

India, All India

Soon the quick reaction team of the Army reached the area and established contact with the gunmen who opened fire and hurled a grenade at the troops.

Security personnel patrol the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Jammu on Friday. (Photo: PTI)

Srinagar: Three militants who entered a home and allegedly took its owner hostage in Batote area of Jammu and Kashmir’s mountainous Ramban district on Saturday were killed by security forces during a nine-hour long operation. One Army soldier laid down his life while fighting the holed up gunmen, the J&K police and Army officials said.

They said that the gunmen first tried to stop a private vehicle at around 7.30 am at Batote along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway (NH 244). The civilian did not stop the vehicle and informed an Army unit in nearby Dharmund village, the officials said.

Soon the quick reaction team of the Army reached the area and established contact with the gunmen who opened fire and hurled a grenade at the troops. After the brief exchange of fire, the gunmen escaped from the scene, the officials said.

While being chased by the Army, the gunmen entered a nearby home and reportedly took its owner Vijay Kumar hostage, the officials said. They also said that the other family members were evacuated to safety after they managed to come out.

The house was quickly encircled by the reinforcements of the Army and other security forces including J&K police. At around 1 pm, fresh exchange of fire between the holed up gunmen and security forces started, the officials said adding that despite heavy downpour, the operation continued for several hours.

During the firefight, all the three gunmen were killed by the security forces.”We have killed three terrorists in the gunfight which has ended. One soldier was also martyred during the action,” Jammu-based Army spokesman Lt. Col. Devender Anand said. While the operation was on, the vehicular movement on the highway was stopped “as a precautionary measure,” the police said.

The police officials said that it is believed that the militant-trio had come to Batote from the Kishtwar side and had reportedly spent the night at an abandoned temporary shelter shed on the highway. They added that they were possibly the same militants who had on September 13 snatched service rifle from the personal security officer of a local leader of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Sheikh Nasir after keeping him, his family and domestic help hostage for whole night in Kishtwar, 107-km from Batote.

Earlier during the day, one suspected militant was killed in a gunfight with security forces in Trumkhal area of Kashmir’s central Ganderbal district. The police sources said that the operation was still underway when reports last came in. “Some reports suggest that four to five more militants are trapped in the area. The operation is still on. It may take time to neutralise all of them,” said a police official on the phone from district headquarters.

Meanwhile, in the first such attack on security forces in Srinagar since the Centre’s move to nullify J&K’s special status on August 5, suspected militants on Saturday tossed a hand-grenade at CRPF personnel in central Srinagar’s Nawa Kadal area. However, no casualties were reported in the incident.

The J&K police and CRPF said that the militants targeted the members of CRPF’s 38 battalion deployed on law and order duty in the area. It, however, missed the intended target and exploded on the road without causing any damage, they added.

The security forces quickly laid siege to the area to launch a search operation. But no arrests were made, the officials said.