JCO, jawan martyred; Army toll 9 in 6-day long operation in Poonch forests

A helicopter pressed into service to locate militants over Bhatta Durrian forests in Mendhar on Saturday. (Inset) Martyrs. —Excelsior/Rahi Kapoor
A helicopter pressed into service to locate militants over Bhatta Durrian forests in Mendhar on Saturday. (Inset) Martyrs. —Excelsior/Rahi Kapoor

Helicopters pressed into services, militants untraced

Mother-son detained for giving shelter to ultras

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Oct 16: In one of the longest operations in history of three decades long militancy in the Jammu region in Pir Panjal mountains which entered Day 6 today, Army lost two more soldiers taking casualties of security forces in the gun battle to nine, two of them Junior Commissioner Officers (JCOs), even as the Army pressed helicopters into service and more para-commandos and SOG personnel joined the multiple search operations.

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Army officials confirmed the martyrdom of two more soldiers in the encounter including a JCO and a jawan. Both of them were reportedly killed in the gun battle with the militants on Thursday evening but their bodies were recovered today. With this, a total of four Army soldiers have been martyred in Nar Khas forests of Bhatta Durrian in Mendhar tehsil while five troops, one of them a JCO, were killed at Chamrer forests in Surankote tehsil of Poonch on October 11 when the operation first started.
“A total of nine Army soldiers have been martyred in one of the longest operations which has entered sixth day. Martyrs include two JCOs and seven jawans. These are the highest number of casualties in a single encounter with the militants in the Jammu region during past quite some time,” the officials said.
As far as number of the militants is concerned though it is anybody’s guess, the officials insisted that it ranged between 3-4 but admitted that they were well-trained by the Pakistan army and could be the cadre of either Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) or Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) outfits.
Police today detained a 45-year-old woman Zarina Akhter wife of Mohammad Farooq and his 19-year-old son Shafait, residents of Bhatta Durrian on the suspicion of giving shelter and providing food to the militants. However, police officials declined to comment saying foremost task is to eliminate the militants and investigations pertaining to shelter can wait.
Army identified the martyrs as Subedar Ajay Singh and Naik Harendra Singh.
“They were part of search operations launched by the security forces to flush out terrorists hiding in the forested area of Nar Khas. On 14th October after a fierce fire fight with terrorists, the communication with Subedar Ajay Singh and Naik Harendra Singh was disrupted. Relentless operations continued to neutralize the terrorists and to re-establish communication with the soldiers. Subedar Ajay Singh and Naik Harendra Singh were killed in action in the fierce fight and their bodies have been recovered in the evening of 16th October. The operations in the area are continuing,” a Defence spokesman said.
Subedar Ajay Singh hailed from Rampur in Tehri district and Naik Harendra Singh from Pipalsari in Pauri district, both in Uttarakhand.
As per the officials, a total of four Army soldiers including a JCO were martyred on October 14 operation with the militants. While bodies of two soldiers, both Riflemen hailing from Uttarakhand were recovered immediately after the encounter, two others remained untraced. The bodies were recovered this evening during searches by the troops lying close to a Nullah in Bhatta Durrian forests.
“The bodies have been recovered and sent to hospital for completion of legal formalities. They will be sent to native towns of the martyrs with full military honours,” the officials said.
Meanwhile, the Army today pressed helicopters into service over Bhatta Durrian forests to trace the militants, Helicopters repeatedly flew over the dense forests during the day, they said, adding that para-commandos and Special Operations Group (SOG) have also joined the gun battle.
Reports, however, said that there was no fresh contact between militants and security forces during the day today though troops fired rocket launchers in specific directions.
Traffic on Bhimber Gali (BG)-Poonch road remained suspended for third day today as a precautionary measures as the forests where the gun battle raged on Thursday were just couple of kilometers away from the road.
Speaking to media persons DIG Rajouri-Poonch range Vivek Gupta said they know number of the militants present in the forests but won’t like to divulge details at this stage.
He said though traffic on BG-Poonch road has been suspended the vehicular movement was normal on alternate roads.