Encounter in Poonch enters Day 7; three locals held for questioning

Jammu and Kashmir Police detained three locals together with a 45-year-old girl and her son at Bhatta Durian on Sunday, because the safety forces operation in opposition to militants within the dense forests between Mendhar-Dehra Ki Gali-Thanamandi and Bhimber Gali within the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri entered the seventh day.

The three people detained for questioning are suspected to have supplied logistics help to the militants who’re thought to have come from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) two and a half months in the past, sources mentioned.

The girl has been recognized as Zarina Akhter, and her son as Shafait, 19.

Militants don’t normally get help from the native inhabitants in these districts, that are predominantly inhabited by Jammu area Muslims, together with sizable numbers of Gujjars and Bakarwals.

Many Hindus too dwell on this space, particularly those that have been displaced from PoK in 1947.

However, uncommon circumstances of a person or a household serving to militants with logistics can’t be dominated out, a senior police officer mentioned. Sources mentioned it was being investigated whether or not the people detained on Sunday had supplied meals provides and logistics help to the militants voluntarily or below duress.

The militants, believed to be six to eight in quantity and closely armed, engaged safety forces in a fierce gunbattle by means of Saturday night time.

The forces used illuminating bombs to gentle up the world, the sources mentioned, including that the change of fireplace continued for nearly an hour on Sunday as effectively.

The dense forest and treacherous terrain have been making the operation troublesome, the sources mentioned. Para commandos of the Army have joined the operation, and drones and a helicopter are getting used for surveillance over the world, they mentioned.

Army sources mentioned the present space of operation in Bhatta Durian was lower than a sq. kilometre of thick pine forest with undergrowth, a minimum of 10 km contained in the Line of Control (LoC).

One facet of the world of operation descends steeply right into a nullah. The routine Army presence within the space is skinny.

It is right here that 4 Army personnel together with a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) have been killed on Thursday.

Army sources mentioned the terrorists held the benefit within the space as they weren’t seen to the “search and destroy” groups of the military. Soldiers combing the world don’t but have eyes on any of the militants hiding within the forest, nor have they arrive throughout any of the militants’ hiding locations but, the sources mentioned.

While the our bodies of two jawans have been discovered on Thursday night, the unit waited till daylight on Friday to search for a JCO who had been reported lacking, solely to understand that yet another jawan too, was lacking.

It was Saturday morning by the point the physique of considered one of these two males was retrieved from the nullah — and that of the opposite was discovered not far-off.

Earlier on Monday (October 11), 5 Army personnel, together with one JCO, have been killed in an ambush in a spot known as Chamrel, in a wider 40 sq km space of the identical forest, about 10 km east of Bhatta Durian, and within the normal space of Sangiot.

With the lack of 9 personnel inside 5 days, this has been the deadliest week after for the Army in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu & Kashmir after the 2009 Kupwara operation through which 17 terrorists have been killed however eight troopers together with a significant additionally laid down their lives.

The final large encounter within the space was in 2004, when 4 troopers have been killed, and should elevate issues concerning the operational readiness of the 17 Rashtriya Rifles, who’re deployed in Poonch for counter insurgency operations.

A senior officer within the central safety institution, nonetheless, mentioned the deaths of the 9 Army personnel was probably extra a results of dangerous luck than poor operational techniques.

“It can happen sometimes. It looks bad, but it can’t be avoided always. Some mistakes have been committed, but that too happens sometimes,” the officer mentioned.

Another officer underlined the problem posed by the terrain. “The jungles are thick and the terrain difficult. The infiltrators are trained, as they are moving tactically and firing only when required. They are not panicking. Even drones have not been able to pick their location. But the cordon is strong and we should be able to get them in the next 24 hours by all means,” this officer mentioned.

While Army sources mentioned it was not clear if the 2 incidents on Monday and Thursday (October 11 and 14) concerned the identical group of terrorists, whether or not this group was working as one or had cut up up into two or extra teams, and even how lengthy they’d been holed up within the forests, a senior police officer mentioned a 10-member group had crossed over the LoC and made their method into the world way back to August.

Three encounters came about within the normal space of Rajouri in August-September. On August 6, two militants have been killed in an encounter within the Pangai forest of Thanamandi; on August 19, in one other encounter in the identical space, two troopers together with a JCO have been killed; and on September 13, one militant was killed in Manjkote in Rajouri.

Sources within the Army mentioned there was nothing but to point whether or not these three incidents have been linked to the incidents of October 11 and 14.

Police sources have been, nonetheless, assured that this was a sequence of occasions. Vivek Gupta, DIG, Rajouri-Poonch vary, mentioned as a lot on Saturday.

“A joint security grid was tracking different groups of militants but sometimes operations take time depending on the topography of the area. Contact with the militants was established thrice this week based on intelligence inputs,” Gupta informed reporters.

The terrorists are holed up, and the joint forces are on the job to take the operation to its logical conclusion, he mentioned.

A good safety cordon has been thrown across the total forest space from Mendhar to Thanamandi. Combing operations have been launched from a number of sides, and visitors has been suspended on the Rajouri-Thanamandi-DKG-Buffliaz highway and the Rajouri-Bhimber Gali-Surankote-Poonch highway, sources mentioned.

For the infiltrators to have remained underground in Poonch for over two months since crossing the LoC is regarded as uncommon. For infiltrators headed from the Mughal Road facet, the standard layover within the space is 2 or three days earlier than they cross over the Pir Panjal vary to Shopian in South Kashmir.

Army sources mentioned that if the militants had been ready in Poonch all this time, it may both imply they feared being caught, or an intention to hold out terrorist actions within the Poonch space.

However, the forests within the space are dotted with nearly 15 villages, and it’s intriguing that they have been in a position to disguise out for thus lengthy with out the safety forces or police getting wind of their location till final week. — (With inputs from Deeptiman Tiwary in New Delhi)