Srinagar: An army Colonel, who had won a gallantry medal on the Republic Day Monday, was killed Tuesday along with a policeman in a gunbattle with two Hizbul Mujahideen militants in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Colonel Munindra Nath Rai, commanding officer of 42 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), and the policeman were killed in the clash at Mindora village of Tral, an army spokesman said.
He said two militants, both locals, were also killed in the operation which left a soldier seriously injured.
Col Rai was conferred the Yudh Seva medal on the Republic Day “for outstanding contribution in planning and conduct of operations” including a gunbattle with militants in south Kashmir last year, according to a PTI report. Hailing from Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh, Col Rai was from the 9 Gorkha Rifles but was on deputation to RR.
The encounter broke out Tuesday when the police assisted by Rashtriya Rifles of the army launched an operation after getting a tip off that Abid Khan, the Hizbul Mujahideen district commander, had arrived at his native village. He was accompanied by his associate Sheeraz Ahmed Dar
Reports said Khan, son of a police Head Constable, had come to meet his ailing brother Owais who is suffering from cancer. “As the government forces zeroed in on the house where the militants had taken shelter, the militants fired upon the forces injuring four personnel,” reports quoted a police official as saying.
“As Colonel Rai tried to enter the house during the gunfight, the militants targeted him and injured him critically. The injured colonel and a cop were airlifted to 92 base Army hospital in Srinagar, where they breathed their last,” the official said, adding that both the militants were killed after 20-minute gun fight.
“Abid was the District Commander of Hizb and he was active from September 2012 in the area, while Shiraz had recently joined the outfit and was involved in stealing the rifle of an SOG man from Awantipora camp,” said SP Awantipora Tahir Saleem.
Police identified the cop killed in the encounter as Head Constable Sanjeevan Singh of Khalani area of Jammu’s Doda region.
Some arms and ammunition have recovered from the scene of the encounter, the police said.
Meanwhile, killing of the two Hizb militants sparked protests and a shutdown in Tral township and its peripheries. A number of people from different villages of Tral also rushed to the native villages of the slain militants and held massive pro-freedom protests, reports said.