Srinagar: The Army on Monday paid rich tribute to four personnel — including a Colonel, Major and two soldiers — who were martyred in an encounter with militants at Handwara in frontier Kashmir district of Kupwara.
A J&K policeman and two Lashkar-e-Toiba(LeT) militants were also killed in the gunfight in the wee hours on Sunday.
An Army official told UNI that Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh Kumar and Lance Naik Dinesh, who were killed in the encounter at Chanjmullah in Handwara, were on Monday paid a befitting tribute by the Army in a solemn ceremony at BadamiBagh Cantonment.
‘Northern Army Commander Lt General YK Joshi and all ranks paid homage to the soldiers on behalf of a proud nation,’ he said, adding officials from other security agencies were also present.
The Army official said that the mortal remains of the martyrs would be flown for last rites to their native places, where they would be laid to rest with full military honours.
Defence Ministry spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia told UNI that based on the intelligence input that militants were taking the civilian inmates of a house hostage at Chanjmullah on Saturday evening, a joint operation was launched by Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K police and CRPF.
He said a team comprising five Army and a Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel entered the target area occupied by the militants to evacuate the civilians. ‘As the hostages were being rescued, the team came under heavy firing, which was effectively retaliated by security force personnel,’ he said.
He said the team of Army and J&K Police successfully rescued the civilians. However, he said the team of five security forces personnel comprising two Army officers, two Army soldiers and one J&K Police Sub Inspector (SI) attained martyrdom during the operation.
He said two militants were also killed in the exchange of fire. One of the slain militant was identified as Hyder a top commander of LeT.