Encounter with Handwara: colonel, commander among 5 martyrs while rescuing hostages at J&K | India News
The two terrorists killed in the encounter, one of whom was identified by J&K police as Lashkar-e-Taiba’s top commander, Haidar, were part of a large group of Pakistani infiltrators who had infiltrated Kashmir through Wadarbala-Rajwara forests in Kupwara last month. the sources said. Colonel Sharma and his team arrived at the site after receiving reports that terrorists were holding civilians hostage in a house. In the ensuing encounter, some civilians managed to get out, while others were released by the Army.
Colonel Sharma, the CO of 21 Rashtriya rifles, with his company commander, Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh Kumar, Lance Naik Dinesh Singh, and Deputy Police Inspector J&K Sageer Ahmad Pathan Qazi, were returning from a mass combing operation in course in Wadarbala-Rajwara. forests when informed that two or four terrorists had taken refuge in the nearby village of Chanjimulla on Saturday afternoon.
“Colonel Sharma and his small group were ahead of the security forces still deployed in the forests when they received intelligence that the terrorists, dressed in combat uniforms, had taken civilians hostage in one of the houses,” said an officer.
A shooting broke out around 3.45 p.m. with the two terrorists, who were apparently hiding in separate but adjacent houses. In the ensuing shooting, some civilians fled the houses, while the Army said some others were “successfully released” by the security forces.
Security forces, who had cordoned off the area by then, destroyed one of the houses with heavy weapons in response to the shooting. “A terrorist was killed there,” said a source.
“But the other terrorist was hiding in the adjacent two-story house with a cow shed. He started firing and lobbying grenades as soon as Col Sharma’s team entered that house. There was a large volume of shooting, ”said the source.
Colonel Sharma and his team “lost contact” with security forces, including elite para-commandos, who had taken up positions abroad. “There was no radio contact with the internal team, while a soldier had a gunshot wound to the right leg outside. When someone called Col Sharma’s mobile, he was answered by the terrorist, who was probably wounded, with an “Assalamualaikum,” the source said.
Without contact with the internal team, the operation was suspended overnight amid storms and heavy rains. “Extensive precautions had to be taken because no one knew the fate of the Col Sharma team inside,” he added.
At the first light of Sunday, the worst fears of the security forces were realized when the five members of the Col Sharma team were found dead in the “house cleaning” operation.
The bodies of the two terrorists, with weapons and other “warrior tents”, were also recovered and turned over to J&K police. While Haidar alias Iqbal was a resident of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the other terrorist was identified as Asif Reshi, a Gund Chabootra local, Handwara. Their bodies were brought to Sheeri in the Baramulla district and buried in the presence of a magistrate.