After the presence of heavily armed terrorists was reported in the Khablan forests of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district by the villagers, a major combing operation was commenced by the Indian Army in the area.
The operation is a part of the ongoing anti-terror operation in the Poonch and Pirpanjal regions of J&K while as a precaution, the Thanamandi-Rajouri road has been closed to traffic.
Step towards neutralization
During an operation that had begun on 11 October in the Surankote forests, nine soldiers which including two officers have lost their lives in action over the past 27 days.
As the Army sought to neutralise the fleeing terrorists, It was subsequently extended to Mendhar. As per officials, they claim that the villagers complained about the terrorists on 5 October.
The Army has been engaged in one of its longest-ever counter-terror ops after nine officers were killed between 11 and 14 October. That said, so far against the terrorists, there has been little success while the terrorists seem well-entrenched in the forested area although since firing on October 24 in Bhatti Durrian, there has been no contact. One terrorist was killed in the firing.
According to officials, In order to facilitate the authorities to reopen the highway, a major part of the forest belt was cleared. Reopening the highway will allow villagers to resume normal activities.
As the Army moved in towards the terrorists’ hiding spot, gunshots and heavy firing were heard by the locals at night. On the other hand, there is no clarity whether any terrorists were killed or not.
Come back in 18 years
In the previous month, the Indian Army Chief visited the area twice and it was for the first time that an Army chief had visited a site of an active encounter in J&K.
No terrorist activities were reported by the districts of Poonch and Rajouri Since 2003.
The districts of Poonch and Rajouri have reported no terrorist activity since 2003. Such terror has made a comeback for the first time in 18 years and is widely seen as posing a major challenge to the security situation.
In the previous month, six terrorists belonging to the Pakistan sheltered Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) have been gunned down by the Indian Army with efforts to neutralise the remaining Islamic jihadists.
According to an Indian Army commander, while the terrorists operated in buddy pairs of two, they had the advantage of continuously changing positions allowing them to engage a larger body of troops which resulted in casualties to the Indian Army troops.
In the past two to three months, around 10 LeT terrorists had infiltrated from Pakistan towards the jungles between Rajouri-Poonch district borders as per the South Block.
Although several infiltration bids were foiled at the Line of Control (LoC), the terrorists belonging from Pakistan were buoyed with their success in Afghanistan while on the other hand the terror surge was already anticipated by the Indian forces and security agencies.
The level of violence in Kashmir is expected to rise as Pakistan based jihadists might take the aid of the weapons and night vision devices left by the US troops in Afghanistan and believe that they are capable of occupying Jammu and Kashmir similar to how the Taliban militarily occupied Afghanistan, although it is an obvious matter of time when the remaining terrorists are eliminated by the Indian Army counter-terrorist troops.
An army officer and four other soldiers had lost their lives during an encounter between security forces and the terrorists when a heavy gunfight was underway in the Surankote area with at least four to five heavily armed terrorists who crossed into the country a few days ago.
Earlier in October
As per sources, after the presence of a terrorist was confirmed during the search operation, he was provided with an opportunity to surrender but instead, he indiscriminately fired upon the joint search party which led to a retaliation resulting in an encounter. According to the reports, the terrorist identified as Mujeeb Lone was killed by the security forces while his body was retrieved from the site of the encounter.
The terrorist is said to have joined the terror fold recently and was linked with Pakistan harboured terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. He was found to be responsible for creating terror among the locals and had been persuading innocent citizens to sympathise with anti-national elements. one pistol along with a magazine was also recovered from the site of the encounter and were taken into case records for further investigation.