CRPF jawan and two militants killed, seven security personnel injured in three Jammu encounters

Militants attack Kathua civilian, police cavalcade before being killed; arms, ammunition recovered, along with currency, Pakistan-made edibles, medicines; Army, police still searching for militants in Chenab valley checkpost, Gandoh forest encounters

Updated - June 13, 2024 07:13 am IST

Published - June 12, 2024 09:16 am IST - JAMMU

Army personnel take positions near the site of an encounter between security forces and terrorists at Saida Sukhal village in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district on June 12, 2024.

Army personnel take positions near the site of an encounter between security forces and terrorists at Saida Sukhal village in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district on June 12, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

Two militants and a jawan from the Central Reserve Police Forces were killed, and seven security personnel were injured, in three encounters in Jammu’s Kathua and Doda districts since Tuesday night. The region has seen four major militant attacks since Sunday, including the one which killed nine pilgrims in Reasi district.   

“Initially one terrorist was killed [on Tuesday] and another was killed on Wednesday. The slain were part of a newly-infiltrated group. We have not called off the operation. There may be some more terrorists hiding in the area,” said Anand Jain, Additional Director General of Police, Jammu.

The deceased jawan was identified as Kabir Dass of the CRPF’s 121 Battalion, who was shot in the right shoulder.

Barged into a home

A group of militants surfaced in the Sohal Kootah area of Hiranagar in Kathua district around 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday. Local residents raised an alarm when the militants, searching for drinking water, stopped civilians. Officials said the militants later forced their entry into the house of Onkar Nath, 45. 

“Mr. Nath sustained bullet injuries when terrorists opened fire in panic,” officials said, adding that the condition of the injured civilian is “stable”.

One terrorist was killed on Tuesday when he tossed a grenade at the police party, while another rushed into a nearby forest area.

Arms recovered

Noting the arms and ammunition recovered from the site of the anti-militancy operation, officials said they indicated that militants were planning major attacks in the region. Over 125 live bullets and three live grenades were recovered from the encounter site, along with one lakh currency notes, eatables — including Pakistan-made chocolates, dry chana and stale chapatis — Pakistan-made pain-killer medicines and injections, a syringe, two packs of A4 batteries, and a handset wrapped in tape with an antenna and two wires hanging from it.

Earlier, top police officials, including the Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Jammu, and Senior Superintendent of Police, Kathua, had a narrow escape, as the hiding militant shot a volley of bullets at their cavalcade.

In light of the militant movement in the area, police are considering widening their probe into a recent unsolved murder case in Kathua, sources told the Press Trust of India. On June 9, chemist Amarjit Sharma was found dead, with a slit throat, near his house in Mela village, just 20 km from the area where the two militants were spotted two days later.

Exchange of fire

In a separate incident that took place in the otherwise peaceful Chenab Valley, a group of militants opened fire at a joint checkpoint of the Army and the J&K police at around 2 a.m. on Wednesday.  

“On Tuesday night, when our check post started checking [in Chattergala] and our sentry saw some suspicious movement [of terrorists], they challenged them. They [terrorists] opened fire, triggering an exchange of fire that continued for around one-and-a-half hours,” Shridhar Patil, DIG Ramban-Doda Range, said.

The Army and the police continued their anti-militancy operation in Doda’s Chattergala area, but did not trace any militant till late Wednesday afternoon.

“The Army and the SOG (Special Operations Group) of the police are searching jointly. It is a hilly and forested area and is taking time. I cannot confirm the number of terrorists. It seems there is a group of terrorists,” Mr. Patil said.

He said that the Kathua police were also involved in the operation because the area in the south connects with Kathua. “We are updated with the movement of this [terrorist] group. We will neutralise them soon,” Mr. Patil added.

Third encounter

A third encounter between another group of hiding militants and security forces broke out on Wednesday evening in Jammu’s Doda district. One policeman sustained injuries in the exchange of fire.

“On specific information, the police party of SOG, Gandoh, launched a search operation at Kirlu Top forests. A contact was established with terrorists. During initial fire, one constable, Fareed Ahmad, got injured and was shifted to hospital. The operation is going on in the area,” the police said.

Spurt in Jammu attacks

The latest attacks saw security being beefed up in two valleys in the Jammu region: the Rajouri and Poonch districts of the Pir Panjal valley; and the Doda, Bhaderwah, and Kishtwar districts of the Chenab valley. Both valleys had seen a significant decline in militancy between 2000 and 2019, but the region has witnessed a sudden spurt in militant attacks since the Union government revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019.

The twin attacks on Tuesday came just three days after nine pilgrims were killed and around 33 injured in a militant attack on their bus in Reasi district on Sunday.  

A series of fresh militant attacks has been taking place since December 2023, when militants killed four soldiers on the Mughal Road between Dehra Ki Gali and Bufliaz in Poonch. In April and May, the brother of a local Army man was killed near his house in Rajouri’s Thanamandi and a Village Defence Group member was killed in the adjoining Udhampur district.

Of the 10 districts in Jammu, militancy has spilled into six previously peaceful districts this year, namely Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi, Udhampur, Kathua, and Doda. 

(With PTI inputs)

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