37 addl QRTs of Army to take on terrorists, brave jawans foiled plot to snatch weapons

Sentry fires after observing suspicious movement in Sang

Woman forced to cook food at gun point

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, July 10: As many as 37 additional Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) of the Army have been mobilized in different districts of the Jammu region to respond swiftly to any terror attack even as reports suggested that brave soldiers of Garhwal Regiment despite being injured thwarted the terrorists’ plot to snatch weapons of the martyrs during the gun battle at village Badnota in Billawar area of Kathua district on Monday.

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Sources told the Excelsior that 37 more QRTs of the Army have been pressed into service in all 10 districts of the Jammu region for quick and effective response to any terror attack and ensure that the terrorists don’t manage to escape from the scene which they have done in the past.

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“The QRTs comprised Army soldiers well trained in warfare and tackling any kind of situation instantly. They will also be used in specific anti-terror operations,” the sources said, adding it has been observed in most of the attacks during the past few years that the terrorists managed to escape after ambushes and inflicting casualties on the troops.
Besides security personnel, timely action by the QRTs can trap and eliminate the terrorists instantly, they said.
As per the sources, it was because of timely and very effective retaliation by the injured Army soldiers that the terrorists were unable to snatch weapons of the martyrs during Monday’s gun battle at village Badnota in Machedi area of Billawar in Kathua district.
“The terrorists tried to come on the road to take weapons but failed due to very swift and heavy retaliation by the soldiers despite being in injured condition,’’ the sources said, adding that like previous attacks the terrorists were wearing bodycams.
“The soldiers showed unwavering bravery and selfless dedication to duty, even in the face of grave injuries,” the sources said.
“The precise and relentless counterfire instilled panic among the terrorists who were forced to retreat, and allowed for reinforcements to secure the area,” they added.
Meanwhile, nearly 50 people have been detained for questioning as the hunt for the terrorists behind the ambush in village Badnota continued.
Driver of a tipper, which was initially close behind the ill-fated army vehicles on the Machedi-Kindli-Malhar mountainous road and slowed down near Badnota village in Lohai Malhar when the terrorists opened fire from two different directions, has also been detained for questioning.
Suspicion has been cast on the civilian tipper driver, with authorities investigating whether he intentionally delayed the convoy by requesting a pass on the culvert.
“The role of a civilian tipper, which slowed down the speed of this convoy, has come under investigation as it is perceived that the driver deliberately asked for a pass on the culvert. Usually, Army vehicles are given preference in these areas but the tipper still asked for a pass which slowed down both vehicles,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
Sources said the terrorists had reportedly forced a woman at village Sadota, near Badnota, to cook food for them at gun point about four days prior to the attack. They left house taking cooked food with them.
Meanwhile, a Village Defence Guard (VDG) reportedly observed some suspicious movement at village Sang in Basantgarh area of Udhampur district tonight after which the Sentry of Police Post opened firing.
Reinforcement of Army, police and SOG has reached Sang and launched searches.
DIG Udhampur-Reasi range Mohammad Rayees and SSP Udhampur Joginder Singh are monitoring the situation.
A police spokesperson said: “A Sentry opened fire as a precautionary measure upon noticing suspicious movement in the Sang area of Basantgarh, located in Udhampur district. Contrary to circulating social media reports, there was no attack. It is advisable for the public to avoid spreading unsubstantiated information’’.
On April 28 this year, a VDG was martyred in a terror attack at Basantgarh.
As exclusively reported by the Excelsior today, four terrorists and two guides were reported to have carried out the attack on two Army vehicles at Badnota in which five Army soldiers were martyred and an equal number were injured.
Army and police personnel have been deployed in dense forests in different parts of Udhampur, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch districts.
Fresh searches were also launched in the Lala Chack area of Samba, Manjakote area of Rajouri and Surankote of Poonch today.
From the Bhaderwah side, security personnel are moving cautiously because of the area’s challenging topography, thick foliage and natural caves, the officials said.
Personnel of the Army’s Special Forces “Para” unit have also been deployed to conduct surgical operations in specific areas, they said.
The officials said the search teams are being supported by helicopter and UAV surveillance. In addition, sniffer dogs have been deployed and metal detectors are being used, particularly dense forest areas, of the region.
On the Doda search operation, officials said police and Army personnel are combing the Ghadi Bhagwah forest area, which is around 35 km east of Doda town and borders Kishtwar district.
The operation to hunt down two terrorists, who are believed to have suffered injuries in the Tuesday encounter, resumed early Wednesday. The terrorists are yet to be traced, the officials said.