J&K: CRPF jawan, 2 terrorists killed

The Asian Age.  | Yusuf Jameel

India, Crime

These attacks came close on the heels of militants targeting a bus carrying pilgrims from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh

Security personnel during search and cordon operation after a terrorist attack, at Bhadarwah, in Doda district, Wednesday, June 12, 2024. A CRPF jawan was killed and six security personnel were injured in two overnight encounters with terrorists in Kathua and Doda districts of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Wednesday. (PTI Photo)

SRINAGAR: Two militants and a CRPF jawan were killed and half a dozen security personnel and a civilian injured in back-to-back terror attacks and ensuing gunfights in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua and Doda districts during the past 24 hours, officials said on Wednesday.

In a separate encounter, a jawan of the J&K's police's Special Operation Group (SOG) is reported to have been injured in a gunfight with militants at Tanta, a remote area of the Gandoh-Bhalessa belt of the Doda district.

The police sources said that the "contact" with militants was established late Wednesday evening and that the Army's 4 Rashtriya Rifles, along with the J&K police, have engaged them in a fierce gunfight in the area.

These attacks came close on the heels of militants targeting a bus carrying pilgrims from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to the revered cave-shrine of Mata Vaisho Devi in J&K’s Reasi district.

Nine persons, including seven pilgrims and the driver and conductor, were killed and 41 other passengers injured as the 53-seater bus plunged into a deep ravine after the driver, who was reportedly hit by a bullet fired by the assailants, lost balance of the vehicle.

The sneak attack on the bus at Kanda near the Teryath village of Reasi’s Poni area was carried out by two militants on June 9, the day when Narendra Modi was sworn in for the third term as Prime Minister at a grand ceremony in Delhi.

Additional director-general of J&K police Anand Jain told reporters that a newly infiltrating group of militants descended on Saida Sukhal village, close to the International Border (IB) with Pakistan, in the Kathua district at around 7.45 pm on Tuesday.

The terrorists entered a private house and asked a father-son duo who was present there for drinking water, which they refused. As they started fleeing, the gunmen opened fire over their heads and then forcibly entered another house, by which time the other villagers had informed the police about their presence in the area.

A resident Surinder Kumar said that he saw two strangers dressed in black and carrying assault rifles entering the village. “I was returning home on a motorcycle when a boy ran towards me to inform me that there were two gunmen around. I also saw them and heard them asking for water, but suspecting they were terrorists, I alerted the villagers. Sensing trouble, the terrorists opened fire, injuring one villager in the shoulder. This was followed by a blast,” he said.

Mr Jain said: “The villagers grew suspicious and slammed their doors on terrorists while a few raised alarm. The terrorists panicked, fired their rifles into the air and also aimed at a couple of villagers. A police party was already on the spot. One of the terrorists hurled a hand grenade towards them but was killed in the retaliatory fire.”

A second terrorist was killed in the gunfight with the security forces on Wednesday. The ADGP said that CRPF jawan Kabir Das, who was injured in the initial stage of the encounter, died in Hiranagar’s sub-district hospital early Wednesday. He added that the civilian who was injured in the terrorist firing is “stable.”

The security forces have recovered grenades, IEDs, a US-made M4 carbine and other war-like weapons from the slain terrorists.

While the efforts were on to neutralise the second militant at Saida, a group of three to four militants targeted a joint checkpost of the J&K police and the Army in the Chattergalla area of eastern Doda district, injuring five soldiers and a special police officer, the officials said.

After the attack and exchange of fire with the security forces, the militants fled into nearby woods, the police sources said, adding that the J&K police, along with the Army and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), have launched a massive search operation in the higher reaches of Doda to “neutralise” them.

A senior police official said that the J&K police and the Army had stepped up their vigil in the area by setting up additional checkposts and laying drop-gates after receiving reports about the movement of militants in the area.

“Over the past few days, we were getting information about the movement of terrorists through the intelligence branch of the district police and accordingly, temporary posts jointly manned by the Army and the police were set up in the higher reaches along with check points on the (inter-state) road,” deputy inspector-general of police, Doda-Kishtwar-Ramban range, Shridhar Patil, told the media.

Asked about these back-to-back terror attacks, Mr Jain said, “It is our hostile neighbour who always tries to damage the peaceful environment in our country.”

Union minister Jitendra Singh said: “The terrorists are desperate and, as a result of the mounting pressure of the security forces in the Kashmir Valley, they are on the run and are trying to shift the focus of their activities to the Jammu region, but their design will not succeed."

After visiting the injured civilian Om Prakash in a Kathua hospital, Mr Singh told the media, “The sponsors of terrorism unleashed from across the border fail to understand that they will never be able to get the ground support of the local population in this region. This entire region, including the Hiranagar sector, where this incident has taken place, is inhabited by people who are nationalist and patriotic to the core and this became evident even during this incident, wherein the civilians stood by the security forces. They not only provided decisive information about the movement of the suspected terrorists but also helped the security forces track them down.”

Lieutenant-governor Manoj Sinha said that his administration and the security forces “will not rest till terrorism and its supporters are eliminated from the J&K soil”.

While addressing a folk festival here, Mr Sinha said, “The anger among people (over the Reasi incident) is genuine. People should have faith in the great valour, courage and intelligence of the police and security forces. We will not rest till we root out terrorism and its supporters from the J&K soil.