Srinagar: Three Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants were killed in a fire fight with the security forces in Tral area of Jammu and Kashmir’s south Pulwama district on Saturday.
In a separate incident, a CRPF jawan was injured when militants tossed a hand grenade at a security force patrol in Kulgam district, also in south Kashmir, during the day, officials said.
They said that the Army’s 42 Rashtriya Rifles along with J&K Police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group and the CRPF’s 180th Battalion laid siege to Tral’s Satura area early Saturday following specific information about the presence of militants. The terrorists were hiding in the hills of Tral.
The Army pressed helicopters into service during the operation to maintain surveillance on the militants' movement and also to drop Para commandos in the difficult terrain to take on the “highly motivated terrorists”. A senior police officer said over the phone from Tral, “The operation was started at around 7.15 am. The contact with the terrorists was established at 8 am. The firing has stopped with the killing of three terrorists but the moping operation is still on”.
The J&K’s Director General of Police, Shesh Paul Vaid, had earlier told reporters here, “The encounter is still on. There was an input about a couple of militants in that area. The exact outfit is not known but most probably they are foreign militants. It must be Jaish-e-Mohammed.” He confirmed that the militants entered in a cave during the fire fight making it momentarily difficult for the security forces to neutralize them.
An Army official said that the security forces laid siege to a cluster of houses
and hutments of nomadic Gujjars in the midst of Wantiwan woods of Satura in Tral after learning that a group of militants was present in the area. Two militants were killed immediately after the encounter started but a third one rushed into a cave in the hills but he too was neutralized after a few hours, he said.
As the word about the killing of militants spread, surging crowds clashed with the police and the CRPF in Tral areas. The security forces fired teargas canisters to quell the slogan-chanting mobs, witnesses said.
In a separate incident, a militant targeted a CRPF patrol with a grenade in Kulgam district, injuring ASI Rajinder Kumar of its 18th Battalion. He received a splinter injury on his left knee and was rushed to the district hospital and is out of danger, officials said. One person was arrested by the CRPF and later handed over to the local police in connection with the incident.
Meanwhile, Lt Gen S Sandhu, the GOC of Srinagar-based 15 Army (Chinar) Corps, said on Saturday that the operations against the militants in his area of operation (Kashmir Valley) will continue. He said though the situation is under control, the Army along with other security forces will work harder to improve it further in coming weeks.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a passing out parade of the newly inducted soldiers, he said that the youth of the Kashmir Valley are ready to serve the nation as was evident from the response to a recently held recruitment rally. “Against just 200 posts, there were more than 5,000 youths who wanted to serve the nation,” he said. Intelligence reports available with Army suggest that there are 100 to 120 militants in the Valley.
When his attention was drawn towards a series of videos appearing on social media and showing soldiers abusing and mercilessly beating up Kashmiri youth, he said, “Our boys are very professional. However, if anybody is found to be working unprofessionally in the force, action will be taken against him.”
Asked about a recent incident of a soldier deserting his unit, he said, “We have still no information if the soldier Zahoor Ahmad Thokar who decamped with a weapon and magazines from Baramulla, has joined any militant group.”