One Maj Died Before Seeing His Bride, Another Before Getting First Baby
3 October 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Commander of Aripanthan (Beerwah) based company of Rashtriya Rifles 34 Bn, 29-year-old Maj Dinesh Raghuraman had thought little about life and death when he had-call it boldly or foolishly-chased Lashkar-e-Toiba's dreaded 'Divisional Commander' Abu Furqan and two of his associates in open fields and finally succeeded in felling the trio at Narwara, near Beerwah, on June 18th this year. Furqan and another Pakistani militant, Amaar, had died alongwith their local host and fresh entrant, Bilal Ahmed Dar alias Saifullah, of the same village while failing to cause harm to Dinesh and his troops. Thereafter, he had suddenly begun to think about a life-not his own, indeed, but that of the first baby his London-based Indian Foreign Service better half was timed to deliver in January next. Last week only, Dinesh's wife had reached his home in Noida. Supposed to join her, and other family members, on Dussehra-Deewali vacation, Dinesh had got his leave sanctioned and he was scheduled to leave for New Delhi on October 10th. Commander of the battalion, Col Harjinder Singh, and others in top rungs of Victor Force wanted to see him add umpteenth feather to his cap when, on the night intervening October 1st and 2nd, they sent him on a crucial mission of intercepting and wiping out a freshly infiltrated group of the Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Al-Badar Mujahideen in Ringwalli forest hamlet in Tangmarg. Dinesh was joined by his fellow South Indian and another dare-devil, commander of the 'Ghatak Platoon' of Beerwah-based RR 34 Bn, 27-year-old Maj K P Vinay. This Hyderabad-based Young Turk was scheduled to proceed on leave later this month to tie his nuptial knot to his Bangalore fiancée on October 28th, the most auspicious wedding date between Dussehra and Deewali. He was equally keen to attend a military training course in the United States of America which stood sanctioned for him immediately after the marriage. Both fell to bullets of an unknown number of militants hiding in a cluster of houses and firing in all directions when they swooped on the hamlet in the wee hours on Tuesday. While Vinay died on spot, Dinesh breathed his last at a military hospital in Srinagar. Their bereaved columns nevertheless kept the heavily armed militants tethered until they received massive reinforcement from Chhandil and other bases in Tangmarg-Beerwah belt. When troops sent in the village headman, Mohammad Ayub Kuli, either to find the number of holed up militants and their weapons or to persuade them to come out for surrender, he was pushed back with a gunshot wound on his body. As if waiting for the sunset, militants began making attempt after attempt to break the cordon and escape but troops maintained a blitzkrieg of 81-mm mortars not only to beat the militants but also to keep the locality lit for the whole night. Late in the night, all the five identified houses were destroyed. Hours after recovering dead bodies of three militants, troops found five more bodies in the debris this morning. When search of all houses and structures confirmed that there were no more militants, troops thought of taking a look of the mass of standing maize crops. Yet another Major had a providential escape as the last hiding militant lobbed a hand grenade which exploded, causing splinter injuries to the officer and a couple of soldiers. The militant was gunned down in quick retaliation. With this shootout, nine militants and two Army officers died and five soldiers, including a Major, sustained injuries. The operation was called off after troops recovered a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, including 9 AK-56 rifles, 27 magazines, some video cameras, NVGs, UBGLs, mobile phones, radio sets, diaries and a direction map. 'They offered tough resistance for all 38 hours of the gunbattle. They are all unidentified but we believe, they are all Pakistani cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba', Commander of Sector 12 of Rashtriya Rifles Brig Kuldip Singh told EXCELSIOR. He asserted that the operation was 'neat and clean'. 'Even as two of our young officers laid supreme sacrifice and five more sustained minor injuries, there was no loss of life in the civilian population', Brig Singh said and revealed that Army did not use any IEDs to bring down the target houses for fear of civilian casualties. Spokesperson of Lashkar-e-Toiba, Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi, confirmed to EXCELSIOR in a satellite telephonic conversation from Pakistan that nine militants of his organisation got trapped and killed in the 38-hour-long gunbattle in Tangmarg. Declining to give names, Dr Ghaznavi said that all the nine were 'mehmaan mujahideen' (guest militants), indicating their foreign nationality. He said that the militants offered tough resistance to the troops, killing 12 soldiers including two Majors. He claimed that 15 more soldiers sustained injuries. He said that the operation was over with the death of all the nine militants present in the village. Meanwhile, informed sources in south Kashmir said that troops of RR 55 Bn intercepted a group of militants at Rakh-e- Littar in Pulwama district. Even as one militant, who was identified as Al-Badar Mujahideen's Fayaz Ahmed Mir alias Junaid-ul-Islam S-o Jalal-ud-din R-o Panzipora, Sangam Bijbehara, got killed, three to four of his associates are suspected to have escaped. Troops conducted a search operation but none of the militants was found in the locality.