2 militants killed, one of them believed to be a top Lashkar commander
Handwara: The commanding officer (CO) of 21 RR (Rashtriya Rifles) was killed along with a major and two soldiers of the Indian Army in a gunfight with militants in Chanjimulla village of Handwara. A decorated police sub-inspector and two militants were also killed during the gunfight.
The slain were identified as Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anup Sood, Lance Naik Dinesh, Naik Rajesh, and Sub-Inspector Mohammad Sagier Qazi. The militants, according to police, include a top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Haider of Pakistan and an unidentified militant.
The last time a Commanding Officer was killed in action during an operation was in November 2015, when Col Santosh Mahadik of 41 Rashtriya Rifles succumbed to injuries sustained in an encounter in Kupwara, the same district where this incident took place, The Print reported.
Sub-Inspector Sageer Ahmad Pathan @ Qazi was appointed as Constable in 1999 in J&K Police’s armed wing, a police spokesperson said. In 2006, he joined SOG and got three out-of-turn promotions to become sub-inspector.
He was awarded several medals including Sher-i-Kashmir Police Medal for Gallantry in 2009, Police Medal for Gallantry by President of India in 2011, DGP J&K Commendation Medal, and GOC-in-C, Northern Command Commendation Disc, it added.
The gunfight started on Saturday afternoon when a joint unit of army’s 21 Rashtriya Rifles, Police and CRPF cordoned off Chanjimulla village on information of presence of a group of militants there.
As the forces zeroed in on a house in which militants had barged in and taken shelter, the militants opened fire, starting a gunfight.
Local sources in the area said that after the initial bout of gunfight there was a lull for sometime as the militants lay low. It was only when a group of army personnel along with the police officer entered the house that the militants surfaced.
Sources said that reinforcements including para-commandos were rushed to the area.
On Sunday morning when the operation was resumed, two militants were killed in a gunfight.
The Indian Army in its statement said that based on intelligence inputs that militants had taken hostage the civilian inmates of a house in Changimul, Handwara, a joint operation was launched by army and police on Saturday. A team comprising five army and police personnel entered the target area occupied by the militants to extricate the civilians, and successfully did so. Srinagar-based army spokesperson Lt Col Rajesh Kalia said that during the process, the team was subjected to heavy volume of fire by the militants. In the ensuing firefight, two militants were eliminated but all the five security personnel were killed.