After an intense gun battle that lasted for nearly 8 hours, an operation by security forces in Handwara town in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district has come to an end. According to news agency PTI, one Colonel, one major, two Army jawans and a police sub-inspector were killed in this encounter with militants.
Among those killed in the line of duty is the Commanding Officer of 21 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) unit, Colonel Ashutosh Sharma. He had been part of several successful counter-terrorism operations in the past. Colonel Sharma was the only commanding officer to have been decorated for gallantry a second time in Kashmir, officials told India Today. He had received gallantry as a CO when he had saved the lives of his men by subduing a militant running towards them with a concealed grenade.
Other security personnel who were killed in Handwara on Sunday have been identified as Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh and Lance Naik Dinesh.
According to preliminary inputs, a joint operation was launched by the J&K Police and the Indian Army upon receiving Intel that civilians were being held hostage inside a home in Changimulla, Handwara. A team comprising five security personnel entered the target area occupied by militants. They successfully managed to extricate the civilians. However, the team came under heavy fire by militants in the process.
The Indian Army carried out a final assault at the first light of the day to neutralize militants hiding in the area. Re-enforcements were brought in and a door-to-door intervention was conducted as part of the standard operating procedure (SOP). Internet services were also snapped in Handwara as part of the operation.
The latest reports also suggest that the civilians stuck in the house have been evacuated safely. Two militants were killed as a result of the operation. Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told India Today that top Lashkar-e-Taiba commander ‘Haider’ was among the two militants killed during the operation on Sunday. The identity of the second militant is being ascertained.