Indian Troops On Red Alert After Attack
5 March 2000
New Delhi: Six Indian soldiers were reported killed in a pre-dawn swoop by freedom fighters in held Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday as the authorities launched an operation against imams of mosques in South Kashmir districts of Anantnag and Pulwama, detaining and booking several prayer leaders under draconian Public Safety Act (PSA). Freedom fighters Sunday morning attacked an army camp at the isolated Badampora village and the encounter lasted for over two hours. Defence Ministry spokesman here said four soldiers were injured of whom two were critical. However, independent reports from the area suggest that Indian Army has lost six soldiers while 13 others were wounded in a fierce gunbattle. The injured included an officer of the rank of Major. Indian troops have been put on red alert following the attack. Giving details, the official spokesman of India''s Defence Ministry here said that the 5-Rashtriya Rifles personnel stationed in the village suffered four casualties in an encounter with the armed activists in Badampora village in north Kashmir near Baba Saleh Rishi, 32-kms from Srinagar. He said that additional columns from neighbouring areas were rushed to block the freedom fighters. He claimed that radio intercepts have indicated heavy loss of life to ''militants'' as well. The official said that operation was still in progress. Indian forces have cordoned off two neighbouring villages Badampora and Gulabpora and the searches were on. ''We have reports that some militants are hiding in the Gulabpora and searches have started'', said the Defence spokesman. Elsewhere, in the held state, four persons including a Pandit lady and a Jamaat-i-Islami activist were killed in the violent incidents during the past 24-hours. Indian forces said two of their soldiers were also injured in a landmine explosion. Reports from Baramulla said that two personnel from 28 Rashtriya Rifles Joginder Singh and Kamal Krishan were injured in a landmine explosion in northern Kashmir while heading for an operation. Some gunmen, believed to be pro-government militants, barged into the residence killed a Jamaat-i-Islami activist Master Mohammed Kamal Rather in his rented house in Preng village. A report from Anantnag said unidentified gunmen last night attacked the house of Triloki Nath in their Pethbug Diyalgam village. It resulted in the death of his wife Mrs. Latashri while Trilokinath and T.N. Raina survived with injuries. This is the second killing of Kashmiri Pandits in the district during the past 48 hours. Meanwhile, reports from southern districts of Anantnag and Pulwama said that Imams of mosques have become latest target of the wrath of Indian authorities. For the past few days, several imams have been arrested at a number of places including Shopian, Pulwama and Pahalgam tehsils and booked under preventive detention law PSA. The authorities alleged that the imams were propagating militancy in their sermons and motivating youth to take recourse to gun. Indian forces have been arresting the imams and then handing them over them to police for getting them booked under the PSA. The political activists mostly from Jamaat-i-Islami are also being arrested and booked under the PSA. Reports added that authorities have decided crack whip on the imams in view of the revival of armed showdown with freedom fighters on a large scale. Reports said New Delhi had made up mind to arrest political and religious activists in the held state on a large scale immediately after the Kargil war. But the move was stalled in view of the Lok Sabha elections. India did not want to invite public anger at that crucial time. Subsequently, barring a few, the top-brass of political leaders were arrested and booked under the PSA. They were shifted to different jails outside Kashmir.