Army suffered its second casualty even as the three terrorists were killed in the encounter at Karewa Manlu in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Saturday morning

With the death of an injured soldier, the Army has suffered its second casualty in the encounter at Karewa Manlu in Shopian district of south Kashmir on Saturday morning.

Deputy Inspector General of Police South Kashmir Vijay Kumar, who is supervising the overnight operation alongwith Army's 12 Sector Commander, told The Hindu that sepoy Bikram Singh of Rashtriya Rifles 44th battalion succumbed to injuries.

"We are sure three terrorists are dead as there was no armed response after 6.40 a.m. At least one militant was alive till morning. But we have not been able to recover the bodies until we are sure that there are no more militants. We will search the debris in a while", DIG said. He said that Major Mukund Varadarajan's body was at a military formation in Shopian for the wreath laying ceremony.

Top Army officials confirmed the death of the 28-year-old Maj Varadarajan and sepoy Bikram Singh but added that an official confirmation would come only after a medico-legal formality. They said that three militants were reportedly dead but the picture would become clear only after a search in the rubble of the destroyed hideout.

Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman Baleeguddin has already confirmed the death of three militants -- Abdul Haq of Arwani, Asif Wani of Drubgam and Shabir Gorsi of Rajouri.

People of Arwani, close to Anantnag and Bijbehara towns, gathered and left in a caravan of 30 vehicles to claim the local militant Abdul Haq's body. They were stopped near Zainapora.

Officials maintained that according to a tip off, the militants, who attacked a polling party on Thursday evening at Nagbal killing polling officer Zia-ul-Haq and causing injuries to 5 others, had been wiped out in the encounter at Karewa Manlu.

Shutdown

Meanwhile, in an unusual development two organisations of the school teachers have called for shutdown of all government and private schools against the polling officer Zial-ul-Haq's death in the suspected militant action on Saturday in Kashmir valley. Haq was a teacher. Most of the mainstream political leaders, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and CPM State Secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, have condemned Mr Haq's killing.