Uri Gunbattle Ends As 8 Militants, 2 Jawans Dead
1 August 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: With the death of all the eight Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba, three-day-long gunbattle between the militants and security forces has ended in Khanda Naar, close to LoC, in Uri sector. Army's loss has been no less significant as this operation has also taken toll of two soldiers, including a Commanding Officer, in a fairly controlled area that had claimed the life of Brigadier Shreedhar twelve years ago. Deputy Inspector General of Police, North Kashmir, Dr B Srinivas, told EXCELSIOR that the entire 8-member group of Lashkar-e-Toiba infiltrators had been finally wiped out by troops of 9-Maratha Light Infantry in a 60-hour-long operation. He said that a large quantity of arms and ammunition had been recovered from the site of encounter and the dead bodies had been carried all the way to a military formation at Bijhama this evening. These were likely to be handed over to Police for identification and funeral formalities after a media briefing in Uri on Thursday. Even as some residents of Bijhama suspected one of the militants killed as a youth from their area, officials looked certain that all were Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba, most likely from North Western Frontier Province. In many operations in the past, over 90 percent of the Lashkar militants have been found to be from different parts of Pakistan's Punjab province. Lashkar had not issued any statement on this particular operation till late tonight. Public Relations Officer at Headquarters 15 Corps, Lt Col A K Mathur, said that on the basis of the documents and arms seized, besides radio intercepts and human intelligence, it was an 8-member group of Lashkar-e-Toiba militants from Pakistan who attempted unsuccessful infiltration through Ghode Taal, Khanda Naar, on the LoC. He said that the militant group had sneaked into the Valley with plans of disruption and sabotage around Independence Day of August 15th. According to the Army spokesman, Col Vasanth V, the officer commanding 9 Maratha LI battalion, and his troops had laid an ambush near the LoC after receiving specific information regarding the attempt of infiltration by the militants at a PoK camp. Colonel Vasanth V and his radio operator, Lance Naik Bachhan Shashikant Ganpath, died in the fierce gunbattle while felling three of the militants on Tuesday. Troops tightened the cordon and killed remaining five members of the militant group. One soldier was injured in the gunbattle. A resident of Bangalore, Col Vasanth V was commissioned in the Army in June, 1989, from Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. A postgraduate in management and a specialist in operational logistics, the officer performed exceedingly well in all his Army courses and held various instructional and staff appointments during his career. He served as AQMG at HQ 23 Infantry Division and as an instructor in Infantry School, Belgaum. He was a graduate from Defence Services Staff College and took over the command of 9 Maratha LI on 28th October, 2006. In an operation led by the Commanding Officer himself, 9 Maratha LI had killed four Pakistani militants on June 27th. He is survived by his wife, Subhashini, and two young daughters Rukmani (11 years) and Yashodha (8 years). Lance Naik Shashikant, who had married Rupali Ganpath only last year, was from Nasik, Maharashtra. Uri has been usually a treacherous infiltration track for militants ever since the eruption of insurgency in 1990. It was in this area that then Commanding Officer and now chief of the Indian Army, Gen J J Singh, and his troops had killed as many as 71 infiltrating militants of Al-Barq outfit. 'Commander-in-Chief', Bilal Lodhi, who is now a senior PDP leader and Member of Legislative Council, was the only survivor as he had been successfully captured alive. Even as over 400 militants, mostly infiltrators and exfiltrators, are estimated to have been killed by security forces in this border area in the last 18 years, Uri has been no less nightmarish for Army which suffered the biggest damage when an exceptionally meritorious commander of a brigade, Brig Sreedhar, was killed by militants in a landmine explosion in March, 1994. The only other brigadier, Commander of Sector 7, Brig B S Shergill, was later killed, alongwith Commanding Officer of RR 21 Bn, Col Rajinder Chauhan, in a militant ambush on Handwara-Zachaldara Road in Kupwara district on August 21, 2000. BSF had earlier suffered an equivalent damage when commander of Sector-11, DIG S K Chakravarty, was killed in Jammu & Kashmir's first fidayeen attack by militants on July 13, 1999, at Bandipore. According to official statistics, as many as 53 infiltrating militants have been killed by security forces in nearly two dozen gunbattles on LoC since January this year in Jammu and Kashmir. Most of the infiltrators have been intercepted and killed in the north Kashmir frontier districts of Kupwara and Baramulla. With variations in figures of different Government agencies, 250 to 300 militants have nevertheless infiltrated into the State successfully, though more than 100 of them are estimated to have died in different gunbattles with Police and security forces in the hinterland. Meanwhile, on its raising day, RR 22 Bn troops and SOG Sopore today killed a Pakistani militant of Jaish-e-Mohammad in an encounter at Zaloora in Sopore area. He was identified by officials as Mohammad Talha Reyan. Srinagar Police, alongwith troops of RR 02 Bn, claimed to have arrested two militants and seized four grenades from them. They were identified as Shabir Ahmed Dar S-o Ghulam Mohammad Dar R-o Bemina and Siraj Ahmed Bhat S-o Habibullah Bhat R-o Maidanpora, Kaksarai, Karan Nagar. Residents, however, claimed that both had been operating in the area as associates of armed forces. Reports from Baramulla said that residents of Waripora, Kreeri, captured two armed youth and snatched away their pistol when they appeared at the village and attempted to kidnap tailor-master Nazir Ahmed Wani at 2030 hours tonight. Sources said that the youths, operating as militants, were beaten to pulp by hundreds of people. The captured youths identified themselves as Muzaffar Ahmed Lone S-o Abdur Rahim Lone and Shaheen Ahmed Mir S-o Sonaullah Mir, residents of Raipora Hajjam Mohalla, Palhalan. Residents refused to hand over the duo to Police, asking for presence of DC Baramulla and videography of the incident. However, both were later given into Police custody when officials held out an assurance that both would be punished under law with total transparency in the whole process. SP Headquarter Baramulla, Sheikh Junaid Mehmood, confirmed that the youths were taken over by Police alongwith the pistol seized from them. He claimed that both were militants.