Srinagar, Feb 28: Two terrorists and Army Jawan were killed on Tuesday in encounter in Padgampora area of Awantipora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. While another Jawan was also critically injured in the operation, officials said.
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Vijay Kumar said one among the slain terrorists AqibMustaq Bhat was behind the killing of Sanjay Sharma, a Kashmiri Pandit, in Pulwama district on Sunday.
"He was (A category) terrorist and initially worked for HM terror outfit, nowadays he had been working with TRF. Killer of late Sanjay Sharma has been neutralised, Kashmir Zone Police quoting ADGP Kumar tweeted.
ADGP Kumar also paid rich tributes to the martyr soldier and appreciated joint efforts of police and security forces for conducting such a complex operation where a hostage situation was defused tactfully and also the sanctity of the mosque was maintained.
Army spokesman said that during the operation, Sepoy Pawan Kumar and Naik Hemraj, lead from the front and suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were immediately evacuated to 92 Base Hospital, Srinagar.
“Sepoy Pawan Kumar in a sheer act of bravery over powered the first terrorist in a hand to hand combat and was grievously injured. He subsequently succumbed to his injuries, making the supreme sacrifice in the highest traditions of the Indian Army,” he said.
The spokesman said the deceased soldier is survived by his motherBhajunDassi. The mortal remains of the brave soldier will be sent for the last rites to his native place at Village Pithyt, Post Kinoo, Tehsil Rampur, District Shimla, Himachal Pradesh and will be laid to rest with full military honours.
“In this hour of grief, the Army stands in solidarity with the bereaved family and remains committed to their dignity and well-being,” he said.
In a tweet, ‘Chinar Corps salutes the valour and sacrifice of Sep Pawan Kumar, who laid down his life in the line of duty on 28 Feb 23 in Op Potgampora, Pulwama. Kumar made the supreme sacrifice during a fierce firefight while trying to maintain the sanctity of the Mosque from terrorists,” he said.
A senior Army Officer told Rising Kashmir that injured Army Jawan is in ICU and doctors are supervising his health condition.
“During the initial exchange of firing, two Army Jawans sustained grievous injuries, later Sep Pawan Kumar of 55RR attained martyrdom and another is under supervision of doctors at Army hospital,” he said.
Police identified the slain terrorists as Aqib Mushtaq Bhat of Malangpora, Pulwama (A Category) was associated with the Proscribed terror outfit HM and for the past few months working with TRF. He was active since January 2021.
While Aijaz Ahmad Bhat of SyedabadPastunaTral (C-Category) was active since May 2022. He was associated with the terror outfit JeM and also worked in coordination TRF.
A police spokesman said in a bravely executed operation, based upon specific input, joint forces of the Army, J&K Police and CRPF launched a cordon in Padgampora village of Awantipora.
" During the search, terrorists hiding inside a mosque opened indiscriminate fire upon search parties and in this initial exchange of fire, two jawans of Army sustained grievous injuries while neutralizing one terrorist on spot. One of the jawans later on attained martyrdom," he said.
The spokesman said extreme caution and limited firepower was used in view of the sacred precincts. Civilians praying inside were also evacuated on time preventing any collateral damage, he said.
"Resuming the search for the second terrorist who had holed up inside a bathroom of an adjacent building, again caution was exercised and 14 civilians were rescued from the place before he was neutralized," the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Police recovered incriminating materials, arms and ammunition including 01 AK-47 rifle, 01 AK-74 rifle, 01pistol, 03 grenades, 02 pouches, 05 AK magazines, 02 pistol magazines, 103 AK rounds, 20 pistol rounds and 02 Aadhar cards from the encounter site.
"Investigation so far revealed that both the terrorists, although joined through different terrorist organisations, had come together to conspire and attack minorities, outsiders, other vulnerable targets and security forces," the spokesman said.
As per Police they were involved in FIR No. 14/2023 of PS Litter (recent killing of Kashmir Pandit Sh. Sanjay Pandita at Achan, Pulwama), FIR No 82/2022 of PS Pulwama (attack on 2 outside labourers at Lajoora), FIR No 115/2022 of PS Tral (weapon snatching attempt), FIR No 76/2022 of PS Tral (OGW module which supported them for grenade lobbing) among many other cases.
DIG South Kashmir Rayees Ahmad Bhat said that they have received information on Monday and based on that a joint operation was launched with CRPF and Army.
"During the search, one terrorist was found in a mosque. One jawan was injured during the firing and later succumbed to his injuries," he said.
DIG Bhat said during the exchange of fire, a terrorist identified as Aqib was neutralised. He initially worked for the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist organization, nowadays he was working with TRF.
“Later another terrorist was tracked down he was also neutralised. The second terrorist has been identified as Aijaz Ahmed Bhat who worked for the Jaish. 2 AK type rifles, one pistol recovered. Both of them were involved in the recent killing of a minority. The operation has been called off," he said.
On Sunday, a Kashmiri Pandit, who was a bank guard by profession, was shot dead by terrorists in Achan area of Pulwama. The incident took place around 10:30 a.m. when the victim, Sanjay Sharma, son of Kashinath Sharma, a resident of Achan, Pulwama, was on the way to a local market to buy groceries.
L-G Manoj Sinha, who condemned the “dastardly terror attack”, said the administration has given a free hand to the security forces to deal with the terrorists and we will continue to combat such acts of terrorism firmly and decisively," he said.