SRINAGAR: A fierce 48-hour long gun battle at Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) building in Pampore area of Pulwama district ended Monday evening with the killing of all three militants by government forces.
In the gunfight three Special Forces commandos, two of them captains, and two CRPF troopers besides a civilian were killed.
This is probably the longest gunfight on the outskirts of Srinagar after a 72-hour-long gunbattle in the late nineties in Chanpora area of the city and another encounter in Lal Chowk.
Armed with only AK-47 rifles and grenades, the three militants held on for so long by tactical and spare use of their ammunition and using the spacious building complex to their advantage.
They had entered the building on Saturday evening after attacking a bus carrying paramilitary troopers. Two head constables of CRPF were killed and 13 others were injured on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. The entry to the EDI building is on the roadside.
After letting more than a 100 employees and visitors go, the militants occupied the upper floor of the four-story concrete building.
An elite Special Forces commando unit of the army, 10 Para, led by its team leader Captain Pawan Kumar tried to storm the building during the night. But the militants repulsed the attack, killing Kumar and another commando, Lance Naik Om Prakash.
Another SF commando, Captain Tushar Mahajan, too was killed when the army again tried to storm the building after entering the complex in bullet proof vehicles. The army also used UAV to track the militants’ position in the building.
Talking to reporters at the end of the encounter, GoC Victor Force Major Gen Arvind Dutta said the army had to change its plan after the first assault led by Pawan Kumar.
“Initially the encounter was jointly conducted by CRPF and Special Operations Group of Jammu Kashmir Police. However, Saturday evening, 10 Para commandos of the army joined the operation and fought pitched battles with militants who threw grenades and fired gunshots. The plan had to be changed after this,” Dutta said.
“In the second plan, 9 Para commandos were called in. Their plan was to secure the floor and corner the militants at one place. This plan succeeded in neutralizing the militants,” he added.
Dutta said the operation took three days because the militants were at an advantageous position and had a bird’s eye view of the army’s movements.
“The plinth area of the four floor building was 10,000 sq feet. Each floor of had twelve rooms, excluding bathroom and lobbies. Our forces had to secure everything before taking on militants,” he said.
He denied reports of a few Indian news channels that suggested that local people had helped the militants store ammunition and ration days before the encounter.
“The militants carried explosives in their haversack bags. We have recovered three rifles from them. Although we had intelligence inputs about the attack, it is not true that they had hidden arms in the institute prior to the attack,” he added.