Three militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad including outfit’s operational commander, five government forces men, four of them from army including a Major, and a civilian were killed in a gunfight at Pingleena area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Monday.
Five top officers including DIG south Kashmir Amit Kumar and army Brigadier Harbeer Singh were among nine government forces personnel injured in the gunfight that raged from dawn to dusk.
A police officer said that the gunfight broke out on Monday morning after a joint team of army’s 55 RR, SOG and CRPF launched a cordon-and-search operation following a “credible inputs” about the presence of two to three militants in the area.
In the initial stage of the gunfight, two militants and four soldiers including an officer of Major rank were killed besides a civilian, Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat (46) while three soldiers were injured, he said. The slain soldiers were identified as Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, Havildar Sheo Ram, Sepoy Hari Singh and Sepoy Ajay Kumar.
There was a lull and the joint team of government forces moved to retrieve bodies of two militants, visible from a distance, he said. However, he said, the militants rose from the rubble of a house razed during the gunfight and opened fire, leading to injuries to a lieutenant colonel and two more soldiers who were evacuated to the army hospital where three army personnel, injured in the initial phase of the firefight, were shifted.
Later, DIG south Kashmir Amit Kumar and army Brigadier along with three other soldiers, among them a Captain and Major, besides a police head constable Abdul Rashid was injured in the subsequent gunfight before the lone militant was neutralized, the officer said. He said that head constable succumbed to injuries at the army hospital. The identity and the group affiliation of the slain militants was being ascertained, the officer said. However, sources identified two of them as Kamran, the operational commander of JeM besides one local militant Hilal Ahmad Naikoo son of Ghulam Mohammad Naik of Pinglena Pulwama. Hilal’s body has been handed over to family, they added.
Regarding DIG Amit Kumar, the police officer said that he suffered an injury in the leg. The Brigadier, he said, has suffered an injury in the ankle and both of them are stable. Massive clashes were held near the gunfight site and several of them were injured in government forces action even as the internet remained suspended. Two houses belonging to Mohammad Abdullah Hajam and Abdul Gani Hajam were completely damaged along with as many cowsheds. A cow was also killed while one more was injured.
Meanwhile, Army paid tribute to four of its soldiers and in a ceremony at BB Cantt, Lt Gen KJS Dhillon, Chinar Corps Commander and all ranks, paid tributes to them. Representatives from other security agencies also joined the ceremony.
Late Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal (33) had joined Army in 2011 and hailed from Village Dangwal in Dehradun, Uttrakhand, a defence ministry spokesman said. “He is survived by his wife.”
Late Havildar Sheo Ram (36) had joined Army in 2000 and hailed from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan and is survived by his wife and a son, the spokesman said.
Late Sepoy Hari Singh (26), a resident of Haryana had joined Army in 2011 and is survived by his wife and a son.
Late Sepoy Ajay Kumar hailed from Village Bastikri in Meerut, UP. The soldier was 27 years of age and had joined Army in 2012, the spokesman said, adding, Kumar is survived by his wife and a son. (GNS)