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J&K: Jawan Killed, Several Injured in Separate Encounters in Rajouri, Anantnag

Anees Zargar |
The Rajouri encounter broke out during the visit of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to Jammu.
J&K: Jawan Killed, Several Injured in Separate Encounters in Rajouri, Anantnag

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: An Indian Army Jawan and two militants were killed while three others, including a policeman, were injured in an encounter which began on Tuesday in Jammu’s Rajouri district, officials said on Wednesday.

Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Mukesh Singh said that the encounter broke out at Narllah area of Rajouri, a border district in the Pir Panjal Valley. The area has witnessed a surge in militant violence this year.

The Jawan belonging to 63 RR was identified as Rifleman Ravi Kumar, a resident of Wasnoti Trigam village located in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district.

The encounter broke out during the visit of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to Jammu, where he inaugurated several infrastructure projects built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

After the troops cordoned off the militants, leading to the gunfight on September 12, one insurgent was killed the same night. “Despite bad weather and hostile terrain, the second terrorist was pursued and neutralised on the morning of September 13 after heavy firing throughout the night,” Bartwal added.

The Indian Army’s Jammu-based spokesperson Lt Col Suneel Bartwal said that an army dog named Kent was also killed during the operation while he was shielding its handler from the gunfire. “Kent was leading a column of soldiers on the trail of fleeing terrorists. It came down under heavy hostile fire,” Lt Col Suneel Bartwal said in a statement.

Large quantities of warlike stores have been recovered, the statement said.

This is the second such encounter in the Jammu region in September between militants and the security forces. Earlier on September 5, the security official claimed to have killed a militant in a gunfight in the forest areas of Reasi district.

Over 40 militants have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir since January, a majority of them foreigners and only eight were identified as locals. As many as 12 army personnel out of a total 15 deceased were killed this year in Poonch and Rajouri. The situation in the Pir Panjal Valley has worsened in the past few years despite the authorities claiming that the situation in restive Kashmir has improved significantly.

An army official told NewsClick that the militant outfits are currently “re-strategising” their campaign. “In the post-2014 insurgency, which was driven by the Hizb’s Burhan Wani phenomenon, we saw only a selected gunfights that lasted for more than 24 hours but, now we are in a different phase dealing with more battle-hardened insurgents,” the officer said.

Earlier in August, a top militant Muneser Hussain, believed to be the Divisional Commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) outfit, was killed along with his associate during an infiltration attempt. An official claimed he had been involved in the militancy since the 1990s and had crossed over to Pakistan several times. His return is seen by the security agencies as part of the plan to use militant "veterans" to revive militancy in the region.

On September 8, unidentified gunmen assassinated a top commander, Muhammad Riaz alias Abu Qasim, across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Rawalakot area of Pakistan, a third such “targeted killing” reported this year. Riaz, believed to be affiliated with the Lashkar e Toiba (LeT), was also allegedly involved in the revival of insurgency in the Pir Panjal areas.

Meanwhile, another gunfight broke out in South Kashmir’s Kokernag area of Anantnag district, where the Jammu and Kashmir police said that officers from the army and the police had gone. The operation is underway, and senior police and army officials have reached the site to review the situation.

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