Decorated Major, 3 soldiers killed at LoC

Srinagar, August 8: Four soldiers, including a gallantry award winning Major, were killed in a fierce encounter with infiltrators close to the Line of Control in Gurez sector of north Kashmir’s Bandipore district on Tuesday. Two unidentified militants were also killed.

This is the first major infiltration bid and encounter along the LoC in Kashmir after the conclusion of parliamentary elections in Pakistan and comes just days ahead of Imran Khan being sworn in as Prime Minister.

While the massive counter-infiltration operation is still under way at Bakhtoor, Gurez, 170 km from Srinagar, the Army suspects more militants may be hiding in the area. It has pressed into service a team of specialised forces to search for militants in the dense forest area. The Lashkar-e-Toiba claimed its men were involved.

The slain soldiers were identified as Major Kaustubh Prakash Kumar Rane, 29, of Thane, Maharashtra; Grenadier Vikramjeet Singh, 25, of Ambala, Haryana; Rifleman Mandeep Singh Rawat, 26, of Kotdwar, Uttarakhand, and Rifleman Hameer Singh, 28, of Dunda, Uttarakhand.

Major Rane, who was attached with 36 RR, was recently promoted and awarded the Sena Medal in May 2017 for his role in the same sector.

Vikramjeet Singh, a resident of Ambala’s Tepla village, had tied the knot a few months ago.

The gunfight began around 1 am when an Army patrol noticed the movement of at least eight heavily-armed militants and challenged them near Army’s Panth post at Bakhtoor.

“They fired at the soldiers and in the intense gunfight, a Major and three soldiers of 36 RR were killed,” a source said, adding that two militants were also shot dead in the gunfight.

Sources said at least four militants managed to return to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. “However, we suspect two militants are still hiding in the area and the operation is under way,” the source said.

Srinagar-based defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said the infiltration bid was foiled in Gurez by the Army.
Gurez is among the toughest routes to sneak into the Valley along the 350-km-long LoC in the region. In the past, militants have waded through the Kishanganga river to infiltrate into Gurez.

In May, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the 330-MW Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project in Gurez. Pakistan had objected to the project.

Source Tribune India