J&K Mosque Seige Ends, BSF Jawan Killed
10 June 2004
The Asian Age
Srinagar: A nearly 30-hour standoff at a mosque in southern Kashmir ended on Thursday afternoon with the reported killing of the three holed up militants. One paramilitary trooper also died in the gunbattle, officials said, adding one civilian was injured. The mosque at Bugund, a remote village in Kulgam area of Anantnag district about 75 km from here, was damaged as it caught fire during the firing, sparking off protests by residents in the neighbourhood. However, the police immediately swung into action and tried to disperse the protesters who turned violent hurling rocks on the former. Four people, including two policemen, sustained minor injuries during the clashes, reports said. The militants, BSF officials said, had entered the mosque during a search operation after a trooper was killed in their firing on Wednesday. One of the militants was killed before he could make it to the mosque, they said. The slain trooper has been identified as Birendra Singh of BSF's 52nd Battalion. The other two militants holed up inside the mosque engaged the BSF troopers for about 30 hours by firing intermittently from the place of worship. One report said that during the firing, one or both militants shifted to the adjacent shrine of Muslim Sufi saint Hazrat Syed Najamuddin Bukhari. The BSF officials said that the remaining militants too were later killed in the operation raising the toll among them to three but the visiting reporters were not shown their bodies, which is unusual. The reporters and cameramen were also not allowed to go close to the burning mosque, which gave credence to the rumours rife in the area that the militants holed up in the mosque and then in the shrine had managed to escape from the area. The BSF officials denied these rumours. They also said that while the upper portion of the mosque, where the militants initially took refuge fleeing from the raiding BSF men, was completely damaged, the nearby shrine where they shifted to on Thursday morning suffered minor damage.