Street clashes begin together with cordon, people raise pro-Lashkar slogans, pelt army with stones
Hajin (Bandipora): After a relative lull, gunfire erupted again in Hajin area of Bandipora on Thursday when militants fired at government forces, injuring one army soldier, while making their escape from a cordon.
As soon as the cordon was being established, people came out on streets raising pro-Lashkar and Azadi slogans. They hurled stones at government forces and in retaliation the forces fired numerous tear smoke shells at them, resulting in clashes which continued till the cordon was lifted from the area.
Sources privy to the operation said that 13 RR of Army and Special Operations Group of police, both of them stationed in Hajin, launched a search operation in Paribal area in the wee hours of Thursday. A source said that “as the government forces were closing down on the militants hiding in an unverified location, the militants opened surprise fire, resulting in injury to one army personnel of 13 RR.” The militant fire was “immediately retaliated, resulting in a brief gunfight.” However, the militants, “unknown in number”, managed to flee the cordon. The source said that the militants are believed to be of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
The injured army soldier was declared out of danger. He was identified as Gobind Singh, who sustained a firearm injury to his right arm.
Police officials at Hajin said that contact with militants and exchange of fire has happened after relative lull of almost three months. The last exchange of fire happened in November at Chandergeer area of Hajin, which the top security brass termed “as wiping out of LeT in the area”. In that operation, six foreign militants were killed, who included Osama Jangvi alias Owaid, nephew of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. The group was led by Mehboob Bahi who was active in the area for a long time.
According to the sources, only a small number of foreign militants are active in the Hajin belt, including a local recruit.