In a dark day for the army’s Special Forces (SF), five commandos belonging to an elite unit were martyred in action along the Line of Control in Kashmir’s Keran sector on Sunday during an intense close-quarter battle. Indian Army Special Forces soldiers killed 5 Terrorists.
The Indian Army launched a daring operation at the LoC and engaged Pakistani-supported infiltrators in a close-quarter battle in heavy snow, neutralizing the entire infiltrating batch of five. Four soldiers under the command of a Junior Commissioned Officer from one of the most professional Para SF units were heli-dropped near the LoC after information on the infiltrators was received.
Three of the commandos were killed at the encounter site while two succumbed to their injuries while being airlifted to a military hospital.
The terrorists had infiltrated across the Line of Control last week. The movement had been noticed near the fence on April 1/Wednesday from drone imagery. This was confirmed on the ground with footprints in the snow not far from the LoC. On Wednesday itself, search parties comprising troops from the 8 Jat Regiment were launched. On Wednesday afternoon, there was a brief exchange of fire after which the terrorists fled their position abandoning some of their bags, containing ammunition. The area was quickly cordoned off.
At dawn on April 2/Thursday, troops from 41 and 57 Rashtriya Rifles joined the operation. Troops once again established contact with the terrorists at about 4.30 pm. The terrorists returned heavy fire before slipping off one by one from a ledge. The chase continued, with contact established twice more on April 3 and 4.
On April 4/Saturday, two squads of the 4 Para (Special Forces) were deployed for a forward staging to the nearest battalion headquarters, and from there to Rangdoori, Guguldara and Teen Behak areas of Jumgund. They needed to chopper it in as the battalion remains cut off by winter snow. The Dhruv helicopter dropped them off on a hill feature. The intention was to conduct a search operation from top-down. The SF troops used quadcopter drones at this point to try and pinpoint precise locations of the 5-6 terrorists.
Over the day, intermittent exchanges of fire continued from 2 locations and then narrowed down to just one location. Tracking movements across two days, it became clear that the terrorists had been cornered into a part of Kupwara’s dense Zurhama forest, not far from the Jumgund village. Final contact with the terrorists was established on Saturday evening.
Subedar Sanjiv along with Paratroopers Amit and Chhatrpal tried to close in with the terrorist location. Tracking footsteps in the snow, the three men tragically realized too late that they were on a cornice — an overhanging mass of hardened snow at the edge of a mountain precipice. It broke under their weight and they fell into a nallah, a frozen mountain stream, right into where the terrorists were hiding. This led to a close-quarter fight in the most literal sense. Paratrooper Amit sustained 15 bullet injuries while Subedar Sanjiv and Paratrooper Chhatarpal also took heavy fire. They managed to kill two of the 5 terrorists before succumbing to their injuries. The other two men, Havildar Davender and Paratrooper Balkishan rushed forward to extract their three comrades, charging into the exchange, quickly eliminating two more terrorists. A fifth terrorist who fled from the spot was killed by troops from 8 Jat.
In the words of an officer familiar with details, “As luck would have it, where they fell, the militants were sitting right there. This led to a firefight at virtually point-blank range. I have to give it to the training standards of the SF guys. Inspite of the fall, all five terrorists were killed. The complete squad was lost.”
Two soldiers succumbed to their injuries on Sunday evening after being airlifted to Srinagar’s Army hospital. The remains of the other 3 commandos and the terrorists were found within just two meters of each other.
The police claimed the slain militants were associated with Lashkar-e-Toiba. In the past 24 hours, nine terrorists have been killed in two gunfights. On Saturday, four local terrorists were killed in Kulgam district.
Soldiers who lost their lives in the encounter called Op Randori Behak (Kupwara) are:
1. Sub Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of Himachal Pradesh
2. Hav. Davendra Singh, from Uttarakhand
3. Sepoy Bal Krishan, from Himachal Pradesh
4. Sepoy Amit Kumar, from Uttarakhand
5. Sepoy Chhatrapal Singh, from Rajasthan
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