J&K sees fourth militant attack since Sunday as gunbattle breaks out in Doda; Kathua encounter ends, two militants and CRPF jawan killed | India News

An overnight gunbattle in Jammu & Kashmir’s Kathua district ended Wednesday after a second militant who was holed up in a village was killed and a CRPF jawan lost his life, police said.

Hours later, in Doda district’s Kota Top area near Gandoh, a special police officer was injured after a joint team of police and paramilitary forces came under fire from militants — the fourth such incident in Jammu since Sunday, when a pilgrim bus was attacked.

This team had launched a search operation in the area after militants targeted a joint police and Army outpost in Doda’s tourist spot of Chattergala on Tuesday night, injuring five soldiers and a special police officer.

CRPF jawan from MP killed in Kathua was expecting posting near home Army personnel at the encounter site in Kathua’s Saida village on Wednesday. (PTI)

The Kota Top gunbattle was on at press time and reinforcements were rushed to the area. It was unclear if the militants at Kota Top were those who had attacked the Chattergala outpost. While the road distance between the two places is 100 km, it can be covered by a 7-8 hour trek through mountainous forests, said sources.

Meanwhile in Kathua, police and paramilitary forces continued searches Wednesday, suspecting the presence of more militants. The gunfight had erupted after two militants barged into a house in Saida village on Tuesday night, injuring a resident. One militant was killed soon after.

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Both slain militants were believed to have entered Jammu & Kashmir recently through the Hiranagar sector from across the International Border with Pakistan.

Police identified the deceased CRPF constable as Kabir Dass, a resident of Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara district.

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During the encounter, Kathua SSP Anayat Ali and Jammu-Samba-Kathua DIG Sunil Gupta had a narrow escape as bullets fired by the militants hit the windscreen of their vehicles.

An M4 carbine, an AK-47 rifle, six live grenades, bullets, food and medicines with Pakistan markings, and `2 lakh in Indian currency were seized, sources said.

The soldiers and the SPO injured in Chattergala, nearly 35 km from Bhaderwah town, were admitted to the Army’s Command Hospital in Udhampur.

Chattergala and adjoining Kathua’s Sarthal are both tourist destinations. After Tuesday night’s attack, authorities suspended the movement of civilian vehicles on the Bhaderwah-Pathankot road.

On Sunday, terrorists had opened fire on a pilgrim bus in Reasi district’s Pouni area, killing nine people and injuring 38 — setting off the sudden spurt in militant violence on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi took oath for the third time.

The flare-up also comes with Assembly elections round the corner and the 52-day Amarnath pilgrimage to the Kashmir Valley set to begin from June 29.

Security agencies feel that the back-to-back attacks at different places — which are 200-300 km away from each other and include both mountainous areas and plains of Jammu province — are meant to give an impression of militants’ presence in areas of the Union Territory that have so far been considered peaceful.

Police and security forces have now sounded an alert in Jammu province and also stepped up their operations against militants who, according to them, are on the run and have carried out attacks in Reasi, Kathua and Doda to divert attention from Rajouri and Poonch districts.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police have also released a sketch of one of the militants involved in attack on the pilgrim bus in Reasi district and announced a reward of `20 lakh for “fruitful” information about him.

The Union Territor’s Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha, chaired a security review meeting with the officials of the J&K Police and civil administration and assured people that those behind the attack on the pilgrims will be punished.

Chairperson of the Democratic Progressive Azad Party and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed concern over the situation. “The surge in terror attacks in Jammu is alarming,” he said on X, adding that the disruption of peace must be addressed urgently. “Praying for everyone’s safety. The government needs to take strong measures against terrorism.”

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah said : “I have always said that terrorism is not going to end unless there is an understanding between the two nations (India and Pakistan). Terrorism will continue and we will have to face it. The tragedy is that innocent people are getting killed… and that is unfortunate.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the country is demanding answers as to why those plotting against the country are not being caught under the BJP rule.

“Narendra Modi is busy responding to congratulatory messages and cannot even hear the cries of the families of the devotees who were brutally killed in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said in a post in Hindi on X.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that terrorists shifting their focus from Kashmir to Jammu region is indicative that they are under pressure in the valley, and claimed they will not succeed as residents are traditionally “nationalistic and patriotic”.

© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd

First uploaded on: 12-06-2024 at 06:56 IST

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