Srinagar, September 14
The bodies of Commanding Officer Manpreet Singh and Major Ashish Dhonchak of 19 Rashtriya Rifles were recovered today amidst relentless firing in the rugged mountains of Kokernag in Anantnag district of Kashmir.
DSP called home for help
- After coming under militant fire, the injured DSP Bhat talked to his family till 2.30 pm on Wednesday on WhatsApp
- Bhat’s father, a retired DIG, told him how to roll down and descend from hillock, but the injured DSP said: “I can’t move”
The Army said on Thursday that two soldiers were wounded in the ongoing operation.
The counter-insurgency operation, which began on Tuesday night, resumed in the wee hours of Thursday at Hallpora village of the Gadool area of Kokernag.
The intelligence-based operation went haywire yesterday, leading to the killing of three officers, including J&K DSP Himayun Muzamil Bhat.
Helicopters continuously hovered over the forested area throughout the day, providing aerial support to the ground forces. The affected areas have been cordoned off, isolating the battlefield from the neighbouring villages.
Security forces deployed under-barrel grenade launchers (UBGLs) and directed high-intensity fire toward the jungle, where militants are believed to be hiding. Additional troops have been deployed at the encounter site, and an extensive operation has been launched to secure the entire forested region of Gadool to capture the terrorists. Officials have confirmed that an intensive search operation is currently underway, with helicopters being mobilised to bolster the effort.
Local ultra Uzair behind ambush?
Security forces are directing high-intensity fire towards the jungle, where at least 2 LeT militants, including Uzair Khan from Nagam village in Kokernag, are hiding.
The Army called in commandos from the mountaineering wing to retrieve the bodies of the two Army officers. With the help of helicopters and drones, they identified and retrieved the bodies of the officers, officials said. The ill-fated operation was launched based on intelligence suggesting the presence of militants in a forested area.
However, the joint team of security forces were stripped of their tactical advantage, as the militants swiftly detected their presence and responded with a relentless hail of gunfire from their assault rifles. Chaos ensued, and evacuation efforts were thwarted as the injured officers came in the line of fire, officials said.
In the initial fire, Col Manpreet Singh was killed while Major Dhonchak and DSP Bhat were wounded. The injured officers died after extensive blood loss.
After being injured, Bhat talked to his family members and colleagues until 2.30 pm on Wednesday on a WhatsApp video-call. His father, a retired police officer, offered him guidance to descend from the hillock, but Bhat’s limbs lay numb. “I cannot move my legs,” he told his father. “The soldiers on the ground could not rescue them because of the presence of militants in the forest,” said a police officer.
All three officers were gallantry awardees.
“In a solemn tribute to the unwavering valour of Col Manpreet Singh, Major Ashish Dhonchak and DSP Himayun Bhat who laid down their lives leading from the front during this ongoing operation, our forces persist with unwavering resolve as they encircle two LeT terrorists, including Uzair Khan,” the police said.
Khan is a militant of the Lashkar-e-Toiba from Nagam village in Kokernag. He joined militancy in June 2022. Sources said Uzair Khan was accompanied by another militant. In August, militants had carried out an ambush in south Kashmir’s Kulgam, killing three soldiers. They later released a video of the attack.
Top security and civil officials paid homage to Col Manpreet Singh and Major Dhonchak at a wreath-laying ceremoy at Badamibagh Cantonment in Srinagar.
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