Family claims no one was at home when gunfight erupted, Army denies : The Tribune India

Family claims no one was at home when gunfight erupted, Army denies

Family claims no one was at home when gunfight erupted, Army denies


Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Chanjimullah (Handwara), May 4

Tucked away in mountains, a two-storeyed house presents a war-torn look. Broken walls, boarded-up windows and scattered groceries display the telltale signs of the bloody encounter that left five Army soldiers, including a Colonel, Major and a sub-inspector dead. Two militants were also killed in the gunbattle.

For Saleema, the homemaker, the tragedy is multi-fold. Not only has she lost the abode, her husband, a carpenter, has been picked for questioning after the encounter.

Saleema had just returned from the forest after collecting firewood when she saw security forces outside her house on Saturday. Panicked, she immediately rushed to the nearby house of her bother-in-law for safety. Asked if there were militants in the house she said, “I am not aware about it.”

Though the family and villagers denied any civilian was trapped inside the house, later that evening, a team of five Army and J&K Police personnel entered the target area. The Army maintained that the team entered the area occupied by the terrorists to evacuate civilians.

“The team of the Army and the JK Police successfully evacuated the civilians,” Srinagar-based defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said on Monday when asked about the family and villagers’ claim. “We stand by the statement issued yesterday.”

From the circumstances, it emerged that they were sitting ducks for the waiting militants as the Army men entered the house compound.

This is corroborated by the account of village head Mohammad Abdullah Lone who was the first person in the village to locate the bodies of the Army officers outside the house on Sunday morning and also confirmed the death of two militants.

Tribune Shorts


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