Major among 4 soldiers killed, 4 militants gunned down in Kashmir gunbattles

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Srinagar: Four Army men, including a Major, and four militants were killed in two separate gunbattles in north Kashmir’s Bandipora and Handwara on February 14.
Maj S. Dhaiya was killed while leading the operation at Handwara, while three soldiers were killed in the Bandipora gunfight.
A gunbattle broke out at Khan Mohalla in Handwara after which the security personnel cordoned off the area. Three militants were killed in the encounter.

In an anti-militancy operation in Bandipora, where three soldiers were killed, eight securitymen, including two officers, were injured. One militant was also killed.

The fierce gunfight erupted when joint teams of police, Army and CRPF laid a cordon around Parrey Mohalla, Hajin, 30 km from here, in the wee hours, after receiving an input about militants’ presence.

“As the cordon was being laid, the hiding militants opened indiscriminate fire in which at least a dozen forces men, including an Army major and a CRPF commandant, were wounded. Three of the injured Armymen later succumbed to their injuries. A militant, suspected to be a Lashkar-e-Toiba commander, was killed in the gunfight,” sources said.

The deceased soldiers have been identified as — Dharmendra Kumar, a resident of Pataliya village in Nainital district, Uttarakhand; Ravi Kumar, a resident of Meen Sarkar Tabela village in Samba district of Jammu & Kashmir; and Astosh Kumar, a resident of Sultanpur village in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh.

The injured CRPF officer was identified as Chetan Cheetah and his condition is said to be critical. The other injured are being treated at Army’s Srinagar-based hospital.

There was a massive law and order situation during the anti-militancy operation as locals tried to march towards the gunfight site. Police had to fire teargas shells to stop this.

There have been at least half a dozen gunfights in the Hajin area in the past over two months. On January 19, a top Lashkar commander and the nephew of Mumbai attacks mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, was killed in a gunfight in Hajin area.

In Kashmir, the forces have stepped up anti-militancy operations and have so far killed 16 militants, including 10 local ones, this year.