5 militants, soldier killed in Machhil gunbattle
16 August 2006
The Daily Excelsior
Excelsior Special Correspondent
Srinagar: While at least five infiltrating militants and a soldier have died in a fierce gunbattle on the LoC in Machhil sector of Kupwara, troops have apprehended eight young boys, who were leaving for a militant training camp in PoK, from Kangan area and returned them all to their parents. Informed sources told the EXCELSIOR that expecting an attempt of infiltration from Athmuqam area of PoK, troops of Rashtriya Rifles 56 Bn had laid an ambush at Kor Katwara Galli in Khannabal area of Machhil, close to LoC, late last evening. Troops in ambush noticed a human movement at a place about 2 km from LoC and they challenged the group of heavily armed militants to halt. A fierce gunbattle triggered off which lasted for several hours. Five militants were found dead in the morning today. They remained unidentified till late this evening though Defence authorities believed them to be Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Al-Badar Mujahideen. One soldier, namely Lance Naik Rohit Basant Patil, got killed and two soldiers, Subedar Himayatullah Khan and Sepoy Ramachandran, sustained injuries. They were both evacuated, airlifted and later admitted to Army's 92-Base Hospital at Headquarters 15 Corps in Srinagar. Sources said that for the whole day, troops fanned out in a vast locality in search of other militants of the group suspected to have escaped but none was found dead, alive or injured anywhere. According to Defence sources, nearly 100 infiltrating militants have been killed by security forces around LoC in Kupwara and Baramulla districts this year. Over 300 militants are believed to have successfully reached the hinterland though a number of them were later eliminated in gunbattles by Police and security forces. About a dozen of such fresh militants are said to have surrendered before security forces and Police this season. Sources said that according to field intelligence inputs, about 1,500 militants had gathered at different training camping for return launching to Kashmir and Jammu in PoK and parts of NWFP in Pakistan. On the other hand, the more disturbing factor of insurgency this year has been enrolment, recruitment and exfiltration of young Kashmiri boys which has shown a remarkable increase in the past few months. This dimension of turbulence has been directly proportional to the level of confidence and morale of armed insurgents and their overground activists in political parties and different institutions. Flow of thick money, incidents of human rights abuse by Government agencies and lack of transparent action against those found guilty have also been found among several factors responsible for exfiltration of young Kashmiris. Sources said that as many as 40 Kashmiri youth in exfiltration mode were seized by Army this year and subsequently returned to their parents. Sources said that today itself, troops of RR 24 Bn and Ganderbal District Police apprehended eight teenagers from Kangan area and later, after a session of questioning, handed them over to their parents. These youth, according to Defence sources, had been indoctrinated and recruited for guerrilla training by ideologues of Lashkar-e-Toiba. A 16-year-old boy, namely Shaukat of Wudar, had played key role in collecting teenagers for the militant mission. Most of these boys were students of three Government schools and belonged to Gujjar community. Meanwhile, sources said that militants ambushed a patrol party of CRPF 162 Bn near Kanjikullah in Yaripora area of Kulgam in south Kashmir in the forenoon today. Sources said that the vehicle targeted by militants suffered damage in the IED blast and two soldiers sustained injuries. One passer-by woman was also reported injured. Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility and said that four soldiers got killed in the blast. Police, however, said that CRPF had not filed any report of a fatal casualty. Sources said that one Manzoor Ahmed Bhat S-o Haji Ghulam Mohammad Bhat R-o New Colony Sopore, succumbed to injuries at hospital. He had sustained critical injuries in a grenade blast on August 14th in Sopore for which BSF and militants have been blaming each other. Traders community in Sopore has called for a shutdown in the apple town against grenade attacks at crowded public places on August 18th. Meanwhile, people in Aeshmuqam (Anantnag) and Arihal (Pulwama) today staged a demonstration against security forces. At Dragran, Hapat Naar, in Aeshmuqam angry residents refused to conduct the funeral of the dead bodies of two civilians who had been killed during the course of a fierce gunbattle between militants and security forces for the last three days. Hundreds of people gathered, shouted slogans and demanded action against the soldiers of RR 03 Bn who had allegedly gunned down the civilian duo after all the eight militants managed to escape from the cordoned area. One soldier had died in the initial round of firing in this operation. Reports said that Police and civil authorities held out desired assurances to the crowds who relented in the evening and buried the dead bodies of Altaf Ahmed Tantray and Mohammad Yusuf Tantray. Five civilians, including four woman, had sustained injuries at the nearby village of Charakhpora when a soldier opened fire while chasing a mentally retarded youth last evening. At Arihal in Pulwama district, residents alleged that a soldier in Army uniform appeared in the forenoon on August 15 and he attempted to commit rape on one Saira Bano. Saira is reportedly a woman from Bihar who has married a Kashmiri in Arihal village. DC and SP of Pulwama visited the site of demonstration and tried to pacify the villagers while telling them that it was impossible for a single soldier to venture out of his camp on Independence Day and make the alleged attempt in broad daylight. They, however, persisted with their demand of identifying the soldier and initiating legal action against him. They dispersed after Police lodged an FIR on the basis of their complaint.