30-hour-long hostage drama ends
21 October 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Police and security forces have finally succeeded in evacuating all the civilians who had been held hostage by militants during a cordon- and-search operation at Thiarina village in Shopian area of Pulwama district. Both the militants, who had created high drama by holding six civilians on gun point inside a house, have been shot dead by security forces. Meanwhile security forces have killed at least four more militants and 17 civilians have been left wounded in a grenade explosion in Kashmir valley since last evening. SP Pulwama, Viplab Kumar, told EXCELSIOR that the 30-hour-long hostage drama ended this afternoon after Police and security forces rescued all the six holed up civilians and killed both the militants at Thiarina. As already reported, militants had held the civilians hostage and demanded safe passage when Police and security forces had raided the house of one Abdur Rehman Dar at Thiarina. Viplab Kumar said that Police and security forces had received information according to which a group of six militants was present at the house of a retired PWD employee, Abdur Rehman Dar. Special Operations wing of District Police Pulwama and troops of CRPF 69th Bn laid siege to the house during the night intervening Sunday and Monday. When they zeroed in on the target house, militants opened gunfire. Four of the six militants are believed to have escaped or hidden somewhere during the melee. Two militants, who were trapped at Dar’s house, held hostage three civilians, including the house-owner’s son-in-law. However, Dar and four of his daughters managed to come out during the initial round of the firing. Four more civilians were sent in with the message that militants should lay down the arms and come out. However, militants allowed only one of them to come out and three others were also held hostage. One person returned with the militants’ demand that safe passage be given to them in exchange for the life of the hostages. SP Pulwama said that he established radio contact with the militants and asked them three times to lay down their arms and come out. However, they did not relent. Consequently, two units of 10 Para and 13-Punjab of Army were brought in for the decisive assault. Director General of Police, Gopal Sharma, communicated to Police and security forces and every possible attempt be made to rescue the civilians but neutralise the militants. In the morning today, Police and security forces fired tear-smoke shells into the target house which helped all the six civilians to come out. Later, the house was destroyed in a fierce gunbattle in which both the militants got killed. They were identified as Abu Samak of Pakistan and Shakil Ahmed Bhat S-o Ali Mohammad Bhat R-o Dhobipora Nagbal, Shopian. Two AK-56 rifles, one grenade and three diaries were recovered from the devastated site of the operation. Sources said that, over a specific information, troops of RR 28th Bn launched a search operation in Dooniwari forest area of Panzla in Rafiabad, Baramulla. During the operation, a fierce gunbattle took place between the militants and security forces. Two militants got killed. They were identified as Irshad Ahmed Lone S-o Mohammad Sharif Lone R-o Janbazpora and Zahoor Ahmed Dar S-o Abdul Majeed Dar R-o Ushkura, Baramulla. In Makilhama, Bandipore, two soldiers have sustained injuries in the gunbattle that had begun yesterday. All the militants have managed to escape from the cordoned area. Unconfirmed reports pouring in from north Kashmir said that troops have killed three militants in an encounter in Sundarwali Gali in general area of Furkian Top in Kupwara. However, Police sources said that neither any dead bodies had been handed over to Police nor had security forces lodged an FIR with Police. Sources said that troops of RR 9th Bn and Special Operations wing of District Police Kulgam have killed two unidentified militants in an encounter in Bari Bahak in Damhal Hanjipora foothills of Pir Panjal in south Kashmir yesterday. Officials claimed that they were both Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba. Sources said that an unidentified militant lobbed a hand grenade on a patrol party of SOG Kulgam at the local bus-stand in Kulgam at 1500 hours today. It exploded, causing injuries to 17 civilians. Police sources said that two persons were grievous injuries were rushed to a Srinagar hospital while as 15 others were discharged after treatment to their minor injuries. Killing of a civilian, allegedly by security forces in Pahalgam-Bijbehara area, has evoked widespread resentment and condemnation in Anantnag. Sources said that hundreds of demonstrators converged on streets in Bijbehara area and shouted slogans against BSF. They alleged that troops of BSF 58th Bn had raided the house of a Gujjar youth, Ghulam Mohammad Khatana S-o Juma Khatana at Lahan Dajan in Pahalgam area, and later shot him dead in custody. Civilians in Pahalgam-Bijbehara area registered their protest against Khatana’s killing and claimed that he had never associated himself with militancy. Police resorted to the use of tear-smoke and baton charge to disperse the demonstration.