A Colonel, Major and two jawans of the Indian Army along with a sub-inspector of Jammu and Kashmir Police were martyred in an encounter with militants in North Kashmir’s Handwara on Sunday. Two terrorists were also killed in the encounter at the Chanjmulla area of Handwara, which is part of north Kashmir's Kupwara district. Reports suggest the Army team went to Handwara to free villagers held by terrorists.
Among those martyred is the Commanding Officer, Major of 21 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) unit, Colonel Ashutosh Sharma SM. Both officers and jawans martyred in the encounter were from 21 Rashtriya Rifles. Col Ashutosh Sharma and Major Anuj Sood, the two officers who lost their lives were originally from 19 Battalion of the Brigade of Guards. While parent units of Naik Rajesh and Lance Naik Dinesh were 3 Guards and 17 Guards respectively.
Five security forces personnel had gone missing during an anti-militancy operation in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, even as two unidentified militants were killed in another encounter in Pulwama, officials said.
The Army officers were leading a team to rescue civilians who had been taken hostage by the terrorists, the officials said.
The Indian Army has launched a massive search operation in Chanjmulla area of Handwara in Kupwara district on Friday after a large group of terrorists were spotted. Internet services were also snapped in Handwara as part of the operation.
The troops surrounded a couple of houses in the area after intelligence reports of the terrorists hiding inside and conducted searches in the area.
Col Sharma was leading a team to rescue civilians who had been taken hostage by the terrorists hiding in a house at the Chanjmullah area of Handwara in frontier Kupwara district of north Kashmir on Saturday, the officials said.
As the hostages were being rescued, the team, which also consisted of a Lance Naik and a Rifleman, came under heavy fire which was effectively retaliated by the security personnel in the outer cordon, they said.
In the early hours of Sunday, a major offensive was launched by the security forces as there had been no contact with the Colonel or his team, the officials said.