Back-to-back terror incidents in Doda, 4 in Jammu region in last 4 days

Arms, cash and Pak made eatables recovered from slain terrorists in Hiranagar on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Pradeep
Arms, cash and Pak made eatables recovered from slain terrorists in Hiranagar on Wednesday. -Excelsior/Pradeep

Another terrorist killed in Hiranagar, CRPF jawan martyred

5 Army soldiers, SPO injured in Chattargalla encounter

Potential tragedy averted by vigilant villager in Saida

Terrorists infiltrated from IB with Pak items, route remains untraced

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, June 12: In back-to-back terror incidents in Doda district, security forces tonight engaged a group of terrorists in a gun battle at Kota Top in Gandoh area in which a police constable was injured while five Army soldiers and a Special Police Officer (SPO) were wounded in last night’s encounter at Chattargalla in Bhaderwah.

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Security forces eliminated second terrorist at Saida Sukhal in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district this morning while a CRPF jawan was martyred in the gun battle even as a massive joint search operation by multiple agencies continued in the area to look out for more terrorists though the others haven’t been spotted.
“Today at about 8.20 PM, an encounter started between security forces and terrorists at Kota Top, Gandoh in Doda district. Constable Fareed Ahmed of Special Operations Group (SOG) Gandoh was injured. Encounter ongoing, more details awaited,” a post by Additional DGP Jammu Zone Anand Jain on X said.

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DIG Doda-Kishtwar-Ramban range Sridhar Patil told the Excelsior that in a pro-active action, police parties which had been deputed to hilly areas of Gandoh intercepted two-to-three terrorists at Kota Top and engaged them in the gun battle. In the initial round of firing, a police constable was injured who has been evacuated to Doda hospital.
“Though there is quite distance between Chattargalla and Gandoh but the possibility of terrorists who struck last night at Chattargalla and who have been trapped tonight at Kota Top being same, can’t be ruled out,” Patil said, adding that more forces have been rushed to the site of encounter to resume the operation with first Sunlight tomorrow.
This was second terror related incident in Doda district in last two days and fourth in Jammu region in four days.
On June 9, the terrorists targeted a bus carrying Shiv Khori pilgrims killing nine persons and injuring 43 others while yesterday, two encounters took place-one each at Hiranagar and Chattargalla in Bhaderwah.
Meanwhile, infiltration of yet another group of terrorists from the International Border (IB), which was intercepted first by the people followed by police at Saida Sukhal in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district last night, has raised question mark over the route taken by the infiltrators. It is being probed whether the infiltrators are cutting fencing or using any kind of tunnel dug by the Pakistani Rangers from across the border.
Recoveries made from the site of encounter today include US made M4 carbine, assault rifle, Rs 2.1 lakh cash, grenades and many Pakistan made items like eatables, medicines etc which showed that they had recently infiltrated from Pakistan via the International Border. Medicines and eatables bear the address and mark of Pakistani companies, the officials said.
Identity of both terrorists hasn’t been established but they were confirmed as Pakistani nationals and were wearing combat dresses. However, one of them was suspected to be Rehan Ali of Rawalakote in Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK).
The terrorists who struck at Chattargalla were also Pakistanis and had been moving around the area for past few days. Police today also released sketches of four terrorists involved in Chattargalla gun battle and announced cash reward of Rs five lakh on each of them.
A CRPF jawan who attained martyrdom in the encounter at Saida Sukhal in Hiranagar has been identified as Kabir Das Uikey son of Shiv Charan of Madhya Pradesh. He lost his life while fighting bravely with the terrorists and eliminated one of them. Body of 35-year-old CRPF jawan was sent to his native town after wreath laying ceremony.
“A total of two Pakistani terrorists have been eliminated and a CRPF jawan has been martyred while a civilian was injured in the encounter at Saida Sukhal,” the officials said but added that search operations by Army, CRPF and police continued in many forward villages of Hiranagar to rule out presence of more terrorists.
Two senior police officers including DIG Jammu-Samba-Kathua Range Sunil Gupta and SSP Kathua Inayat Ali Choudhary escaped unhurt even as their vehicles were hit by bullets during the operation at Saida Sukhal during the gun battle which resumed at 3 AM this morning. In the resultant encounter, security forces eliminated the terrorist while a CRPF jawan was martyred.
Talking to reporters after the encounter, Additional Director General of Police (Jammu zone) Anand Jain, who supervised the entire operation, said both the terrorists have been killed and a large quantity of weapons, IEDs, grenades and other items have been recovered from them.
“A search is still on as there is a possibility of some more terrorists hiding in the area. The terrorists had freshly infiltrated (from across the border) and a joint operation was launched immediately after getting information about their presence in the village,” Jain said.
In Doda, terrorists fired on a joint check post of the 4 Rashtriya Rifles and police at Chattargalla area late on Tuesday night, leading to a fierce gunfight which continued for several hours.
Five Rashtriya Rifles personnel and an SPO were injured and they were taken to hospital. Additional security personnel have been rushed to the area to intensify the operation against the terrorists, they said.
According to the officials, traffic movement has been completely suspended on the busy Bhadarwah-Pathankot interstate highway in view of the ongoing search and cordon operation in Chattargalla, Guldandi, Sarthal, Shankh Pader and Kailash mountain range.
One group comprising three to four terrorists are present in the higher reaches of Doda district, police said, asserting that a search operation is on to neutralize them despite the challenging terrain.
Injured jawans have been identified as Pawar Rama, Sachin Tigga, Abhimanyu, Sawar Sachin and Raju Karwasra, all from Army and SPO Anil Kumar. They have been hospitalized and their condition is stated to be stable.
“Over the past few days, we were getting information about movement of terrorists through the intelligence branch of district police and accordingly, temporary posts jointly manned by army and police were set up in the higher reaches along with check points on the (inter-state) road,” Deputy Inspector General of Police, Doda-Kishtwar-Ramban range, Shridhar Patil, told reporters.
Patil, who is supervising the anti-terrorist operation, said the sentry of a post at Chattergalla pass, connecting Doda and Kathua districts, observed suspicious movement late Tuesday night and challenged the suspected persons.
“The terrorists opened fire and in the ensuing exchange of firing which continued for a long time, more than one-and-a-half hours, the deployed personnel fought bravely. Some of our personnel, including a policeman were injured but all of them are stable and out of danger,” the officer said.
He said the whole area is being combed with utilization of modern equipment and “we are hopeful of neutralizing this group (of terrorists) very soon”.
The DIG said the group of terrorists only consisted of three to four members.
Talking about the challenges during the operation, he said the mountains are very deep with thick forest cover.
“We have to move tactically as there is a difference in conducting operations in the plains and mountainous areas. The combing in tough terrains takes time and we have to tread cautiously to avoid any casualty on our side before neutralizing the terrorists,” he added.
According to the officials, the traffic movement has been completely suspended on Bhadarwah-Pathankot interstate highway in view of the ongoing search and cordon operation in Chattergalla, Guldandi, Sarthal, Shankh Pader and Kailash mountain range.
Meanwhile, a vigilant villager in Saida Sukhal hamlet prevented a potential tragedy by alerting the locals about two armed terrorists following which they rushed to safety.
The region remains tense following the attack.
“A tragedy was averted because I raised an alarm about terrorists in the village. Many children were playing, and people were out walking. They could have easily killed 15 to 20 people, mostly children. People were heading to Satsang in the evening. It could have been catastrophic,” said villager and eyewitness Surinder.
Surinder, who was returning to his hamlet on his motorbike, encountered the armed men who asked for water. Suspicious of their behavior, he immediately sounded an alert.
“It was around 7:30 to 7:45 pm. I was on my bike when a child informed me about two armed youths in the village. I saw them dressed in black with AK rifles, calling me to approach them. I suspected they were terrorists and warned the villagers, leading them to rush home. Shops closed and vehicles stopped,” Surinder recounted.
“Moments after my alert, the terrorists started firing. They shot several rounds, injuring a local in the shoulder, followed by a blast,” he added.
Surinder quickly informed a district development committee member, who alerted the police. The police arrived promptly, killing one terrorist while the other escaped.
“Thank God for the timely alert,” he said.
“Had they come during the day, when the area is crowded, it could have been much worse. At 3 am, they fired again, killing a CRPF officer,” added Surinder.
The attack has instilled fear among the villagers, who believe the terrorists might have infiltrated through a tunnel bypassing the strong BSF security fencing.
“There is now a fear of infiltration. This area has not seen such incidents in a long time. It is close to the IB. The Government must ensure foolproof security,” said villager Trilok Chand.
Meanwhile, a search and cordon operation has been launched in the Kalal area of Nowshera sector in Rajouri district following suspicious movement of two persons.
Security forces have been put on high alert following intelligence reports about possible attempts by terrorists to carry out an attack, especially in Poonch and Rajouri districts which has been seeing a spurt in terror activities over the past two years.