February 2019 News

Police Officer, Soldier, 3 Militants Killed In Kulgam

24 February 2019
Greater Kashmir
Khalid Gul

Srinagar: An officer from the Jammu and Kashmir police, an army soldier and three Jaish-e-Muhammad militants were killed in a fierce gun-battle between forces and militants in the restive Kulgam district in southern Kashmir on Sunday. At least a dozen civilians were also injured-three among them critically-as forces fired live ammunition and pellets on protesters who were trying to help the besieged militants escape. Aman Kumar Thakur, a 2011-batch Kashmir police service officer who was posted as deputy superintendent of police (operations) Kulgam, received a critical bullet injury in his neck during the encounter and was evacuated to the district hospital where doctors pronounced him as 'bought dead', a police official told Greater Kashmir. 'He (Thakur) had been heading the counter-militancy wing of J&K police in Kulgam from the last a one and half year and had played an instrumental role in killing the dreaded militants in the area,' a police statement read. Thakur hailed from Gogla area of Doda district in Jammu province. 'He was leading from the front in this operation and made supreme sacrifice in the line of duty,' the statement added. An army major and two other forces personnel sustained critical bullet injuries in the gunfight and were flown to the army's 92 base hospital in Srinagar, the official said. All of them, including the major, are from army's 34 Rashtriya Rifles camping at Bihibagh area. 'One of the injured army men, identified as naibsubedarSombveer later succumbed to his injuries'. Earlier, a police official said a joint team of army's 34 RR, central reserve police force (CRPF), and special operations group of J&K police launched a cordon-and-search operation in Turigam village along the Qaimoh-Bihbagh-Shopian road in Kulgam district. 'The cordon was laid at around 2pm following credible inputs about presence of some Jaish-e-Mohammad militants in the area,' he said. As the searches were on, the militants fired upon the forces from a house, triggering a fierce gunfight, the official said. 'The guns roared heavily from both sides and after around two hours, the DSP (operations) was hit in the neck with a bullet fired by militants,' he said. Soon, the official said, one of the militants was killed while two others continued to engage forces in an intense firefight. 'The forces later used heavy artillery and blew up the house where the militants had taken shelter by using improvised explosive devices (IEDs),' said a local resident. At around 6.30 pm, the guns fell silent on both sides. The police official said the search operation was launched and a body of one militant was retrieved. Later, he said, two other bodies were also recovered. 'The bodies have been taken to nearby Bihibagh army camp,' he said, adding their identities are yet to be ascertained. 'The bodies will be taken to the district police lines for identification,' the official said. A source said that two of the three slain militants are believed to be locals from Kulgam while the third one is reportedly a Pakistani. Earlier, as the word about militants holed up in a house spread, people from adjoining villages marched towards Turigam in a bid to help the militants escape. Braving restrictions, the civilians tried to disrupt the anti-militancy operation by pelting stones on forces deployed in the outer cordon. The forces in turn lobbed teargas shells and pellets to disperse the protesters, injuring many of them, a witness said. The forces later fired live ammunition at the protesters, he said. Three persons received bullet injuries in the forces' action and were evacuated to district hospital Kulgam. 'We received eight injured persons and three among them had bullet injuries. One had sustained a bullet injury in his chest while another had a severe injury in his hand. Both of them were referred to SKIMS Srinagar. The third one also had a bullet injury in his hand and was evacuated to SMHS hospital in Srinagar,' medical superintendent of district hospital KulgamDr GN Bhat told Greater Kashmir. He said the hospital also received five more persons injured with pellets. 'Two of them were treated here while three others with pellet injuries in their eyes were referred to the SMHS hospital,' he said. A doctor at DH Kulgam said: 'The hand of the youth with critical bullet injury might have to be amputated'. He said the condition of another youth with bullet injury in chest is 'critical'. A doctor at SMHS hospital said a youth Adil Ahmed who had pellet injuries was later referred to SKIMS. 'Ahmed had a deep wound in his arm and seemed to have an injury to his vessel too. We noticed that blood supply to his arm was getting affected and he needed a vascular specialist for which he was sent to SKIMS,' the doctor said. He said another 20-year-old youth Javed Ahmed with pellet injury in his left eye was admitted at the hospital and is undergoing treatment. Several other people who received minor pellet and shell injuries were treated at primary health center Kaddar. Meanwhile, mobile internet service in Kulgam district had already been snapped last night. POLICE VERSION In a statement, a police spokesman said: 'Three JeM militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter. Their identities are being ascertained'. 'Incriminating material including arms and ammunition was recovered from the site of encounter. Police have registered a case and initiated the investigation in the matter. Citizens are requested not to venture inside encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitised and cleared of all the explosive materials if any'.