The standoff between government forces and a militant, who rose from the rubble of a house yesterday, continued at Babagund Langate area of Handwara in frontier Kupwara district on Saturday.
So far, four government force men including an officer of Inspector rank of CRPF 92 battalion were killed and eleven other personnel—four from paramilitary and others from Army— were injured. One militant has been claimed to have been killed but so far no body has been retrieved from the gunfight site.
Official sources told GNS that on early Saturday morning, elite Para commandos from 3 and 9 battalion joined the already strengthened posse of government forces comprising army’s 22 Rashtriya Rifles, 92 battalion CRPF and police’s Special Operation Group.
They said that there was fresh fire between the militant and the government forces and it continued intermittently for the day.
The government forces allegedly razed one more house to rubble by blowing it up with an Improvised Explosive Device. The three houses so far damaged belong to Manzoor Ahmad shah son of Ghulam Hassan, Fayaz Ahmad Peer son of Wali Mohammad and Imtiyaz Ahmad Bhat son of Ghulam Ahmad Bhat. Two cowsheds and a tin shed were also damaged so far, the officials added.
The encounter broke out during the night between February 28 and March 1 after the joint team launched a cordon-and-search operation. A fierce encounter started and two militants were believed to have been killed.
However, when the joint search team went to retrieve the militant bodies amid a lull, one of the two militants, earlier believed to be dead stood up and fired indiscriminately. A CRPF Inspector namely Pintu Kumar and paramilitary trooper Vinod besides two policemen– Naseer Ahmad Kholi and Ghulam Mustafa Barah—were killed and eleven uniformed men, seven of the army men, were injured in the subsequent gunfight. A civilian was also killed in alleged government forces action amid clashes near the encounter site.
Meanwhile, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at District Police Lines, Handwara and officers led by IGP Kashmir S. P. Pani (IPS) laid floral wreaths on the bodies of SgCt Naseer Ahmad Kholi resident of Gund Gujran Karnah and SgCt Ghulam Mustafa Barah resident of Zachaldara Handwara.
Among others who attended the ceremony include DIG NKR Mohammad Suleman Choudhary (IPS), SP Handwara Ashish Kumar Mishra (IPS), Commander 7th Sector, CO CRPF and other officers and personnel of the district.
According to a police spokesman Naseer is survived by parents, wife, 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.
Ghulam Mustafa’s family is survived by aged mother, wife, two daughters and as many sons, the spokesman added.