Dense, low visibility forests of the Pir Panjal range and uphill terrain were factors that resulted in two army officers and three jawans being killed in action during the two-day gunbattle with terrorists in the Kalakote region of Jammu. Two Pakistani terrorists, one of them a Lashkar-e-Taiba sniper and explosives expert, have been eliminated in the operation.
Details of the encounter accessed by Newsbust India revealed a harrowing situation where the army was operating at a place where the visibility was no more than a few meters. The terrorists were on a higher ground, shooting from behind boulders where they had taken cover.
Sources said the terrorists have been on the run since November 19 and were hiding in “dhoks” or shelters for graziers in the area. The army had gone to the area after receiving a complaint from the locals and had started operations in Ziarat, Mal, Gulabgarh forest and the Solaki Area.
Captain MV Pranjal of 63 Rashtriya Rifles was the first to get shot while talking to an elderly woman to gather information in the area where the terrorists were hiding.
Desperate to get the injured Captain to safety, Major DS Mehra of 9 Para went into the area, drawing fire from the terrorists and sustaining a gunshot wound. Captain Pranjal succumbed to his injuries though Major Mehra has been evacuated and is recovering from his injuries.
Among those who went in to support Major Mehra were Captain Shubham Gupta, Havildar Abdul Majid and Lance Naik Sanjay Bisht, all from 9 Para Special Forces. Captain Gupta and two jawans were fatally injured as they tried to tactically intervene.
Early this morning, Pakistan attempted to drop arms to the terrorists by drones, an attempt which has been foiled. The drones were carrying ammunition, which have been recovered, and probably pistols, sources said.
Shortly after 9 am, one of the two Pakistani terrorists was killed but another soldier, Paratrooper Sachin Laur, was killed in action during the operation.
The second terrorist, who was hiding behind a Sangar (stone structures in the forest) and firing intermittently was subsequently eliminated.
Sources said one of the two terrorists have been identified as Quari, a Lashkar-e-Taiba sniper and explosives expert who was active in Rajouri for over a year. He was involved in at least three terror incidents, sources said.
“Quari was known to be the mastermind behind #Dangri incident, in which six innocent civilians were killed in Jan 23, as well as #Kandi attacks in the #rajouri #poonch areas. He was instrumental in the revival of terrorism in these districts,” read a post from the official account of the Army’s 16 Corps on X, formerly Twitter.