July 2001 News

Commandos to tackle terrorists

28 July 2001
The Indian Express
GAURAV C. SAWANT

New Delhi: At 7 pm, a team of elite commandos took off for Kashmir from Palam airport, New Delhi. Six terrorists were holed up inside a mosque in Shangus, near Anantnag, surrounded by both the police and the Army for eight hours. By 11 pm, the commandos had landed in Srinagar, surveyed the area around the mosque and taken position. At 4 am, they entered the mosque, killed six terrorists and emerged victorious. By noon that day, the commandos were back in their barracks in Delhi. THE recent operation, codenamed ''Ratna'', is now a part of the new Kashmir policy being worked on simultaneously by the Ministries of Home Affairs (MHA) and Defence (MoD). ''Specialised troops for special missions,'' is the buzz word. Ironically, officials of North and South Block who never see eye-to-eye, have for once put their heads together. ''More troops in Kashmir mean more casualties. We need more intelligence about terrorist deployment and movement. Then the commandos move in,'' sources said. And these commandos do not come under the MoD. These are the Special Action Group (SAG) of the National Security Guard (NSG), the same ones who killed six terrorists in an operation lasting less than three hours in Anantnag. ''They are highly trained and better equipped personnel, drawn from the Army but on deputation under the MHA,'' the sources said. Security forces fear a spurt in terrorist activity after the breakdown of talks between Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. ''Mosques, houses in crowded localities, police stations, schools and government offices are the places where more such incidents of terrorists being holed up are expected. The SAG commandos are geared up for these eventualities and are specially training to counter them,'' MHA sources said. In the incident on June 12, the 7th Battalion of Rashtriya Rifles surrounded the mosque when terrorists took refuge in it. ''However, the terrorists threatened to blow up the mosque if Army moved in. On special instructions from the MHA, a team of 40 commandos, including their commander, a Brigadier, were airlifted to Srinagar and from there moved by helicopter to Anantnag around 7 pm,'' sources said. ''Approximately three hours later, the commandos hurled in stun grenades. The impact - sound and light - of the grenade stunned the four terrorists inside, giving Majors M.S. Nahar, Vikram Jaitley and the other commandos an opportunity to move in and kill the four remaining terrorists,'' sources added. The main advantage, say Army sources, is that not a single commando was killed or even injured. ''The only injury was to the chin strap of Nahar''s helmet which came apart when a bullet grazed past. There was no collateral damage,'' an Army official said. Collateral damage is something for which the Army has been drawing tremendous flak. ''In operations, houses, shops and mosques are burnt down, leading to people''s anger. Here, there was none. Therefore, the government has decided to undertake more such operations in future and reduce the presence of security forces from everyday life in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,'' sources added.

 

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