Security forces lost five personnel including a Colonel, Major, two Jawans and a sub inspector of J&K police during Handwara encounter that raged on since Saturday evening in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.
A search and cordon operation was launched in Chanjmulla of Handwara area after specific information was received on Friday evening. A unit of army and local police had reached the village after they received information about presence of at least four ultras.
While the search operation continued, reports of five security forces personnel started to emerge. It was reported that an army Colonel, Major, two jawans and a J&K police sub-inspector were trapped inside a house where terrorists were hiding.
The gun-battle ensued on Saturday evening and continued till Sunday wee hours. According to the sources it was a hostage crisis that had developed at the area as the senior army personnel were trapped inside the house where terrorists were also present.
An official statement on Handwara encounter read, “Based on the intelligence input that terrorists were taking the civilian inmates of a house in Changimulla , Handwara of Kupwara district hostage, a joint operation was launch by Army and J&K Police. A team comprising of five Army and J&K Police personnel entered the target area occupied by the terrorists to evacuate the civilians”.
It further stated that the team of Army and police entered the the area and successfully extricated the civilians. However, during the process, the team was subjected to heavy volume of fire by the terrorists. “In the ensuing fire fight two terrorists were eliminated and the team of five army and J&K personnel comprising of two Army officers, two soldiers and one Police Sub Inspector attained martyrdom”.
Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Commanding Officer of 21 Rashtriya Rifles unit, Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh, Lance Naik Dinesh and SI Shakeel Qazi have so far been identified as those who attained martyrdom.
A senior police official said that a group of five terrorists had infiltrated into India from Pakistani side earlier this week and the security forces were tracing them since then. Army had eliminated many terrorists in encounters this week and was chasing this group of ultras that had infiltrated into India.
It is believed that the terrorists in Handwara terror attack were heavily armed with latest weaponry and had local support from the area.