Captain among 12 Indian soldiers killed in Pak shelling at Machhil
2 August 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: Machhil sector, on LoC, in Kupwara district has turned into a hot battlefield as Pakistani troops have destroyed two pickets of Indian Army, killing at least one Captain and eleven other soldiers. Indian troops began fierce retaliation and there was immediately no report of any casualty from other side. Highly-placed official sources told EXCELSIOR that fierce exchange of artillery and mortar shelling began between Pakistani and Indian security forces in Macchil sector of Kupwara district last evening. During the exchange of heavy shelling, Pakistani troops destroyed Ashwani picket, at Ringsar, near LoC, killing eleven soldiers of 11-Sikh LI. Three of the soldiers killed on spot have been identified as Subedar Sacha Singh, Lance Naik Ranjit Singh and Sepoy-cook Santosh Kumar. Sources said that the picket, destroyed at 2010 hours last evening, could not be reached by rescue troops and reinforcements as heavy exchange of gunfire was going on continuously. This evening, one picket of 21-Jat was damaged in Pakistani shelling at Gogaldara Kumkari in Lashdot area, near LoC, in Kupwara district. Sources confirmed the death of one Captain whose identity was not available immediately. Earlier, in the Pakistani shelling in Machhil sector last evening, one woman, namely Hajira Bano D-o Khizar Mohammad R-o Tsoontiwari died and several residential houses, including a mosque suffered massive damage. Defence Minister, George Fernandes, and senior Army commanders are likely to visit Machhil and other LoC areas in north Kashmir tomorrow. PRO Defence at headquarters of 15 Corps, Lt Col Mukhtiar Singh, confirmed the heavy exchange of shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops in Machhil area. He, however, maintained that no report of any casualty was available with him. Meanwhile, Border Security Force (BSF) today suffered a major setback when Commanding Officer (CO) of a battlion got killed, alongwith a head constable, in a major gunbattle with militants in Chrar-e-Sharif area of Budgam district. Six militants and two civilians have also died in different militancy-related incidents across Kashmir valley since last evening. Informed sources told EXCELSIOR that troops of BSF 171 Bn received specific information regarding the presence of some armed militants at Kheewudar Naupora, in Neelnag area of Chadoura, in Budgam district early this morning. Troops rushed to the spot, cordoned off the area and eliminated two militants in a gunbattle. While as one of them was believed to be a Pakistani national, another one carried an identity card in the name of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat S-o Khizar Mohammad Bhat R- o Khoipora Qaziabad, Handwara. Both are believed to be members of Hizbul Mujahideen. While the gunbattle at Kheewudar ended with the death of two militants, Commanding Officer of BSF 171 Bn, P V Purohit, received information that another group of militants was present at Malapora village, bordering Budgam and Pulwama districts, in Chrar-e-Sharif area. He briefed his troops about the operation and left for the spot. A number of mediapersons insisted that they too be taken along for live coverage of the ensuing gunbattle. He assured them that he would call them to the spot once the encounter began and the cordon was complete. As soon as he reached the particular spot in a plain non-bulletproof Gypsy, militants showered volleys of gunfire on the BSF raiding party. Head constable Krishen Kumar Hooda, who was a resident of Haryana, died on spot. The CO, resident of Garhwal Uttaranchal, sustained critical injuries. He was rescued and rushed to 92-Base Hospital in a helicopter. However, doctors could not retrieve him and he was declared dead after two hours. Purohit had conducted a number of successful counter-insurgency operations in Chadoura area during the last over two years. Even after the damage, BSF maintained tight cordon around the spot and eliminated both the militants who had struck on the CO in the very beginning. According to preliminary reports, at least five militants were present in Malapora. However, none was found alive during the search operation other than the two killed by BSF. Both remained unidentified till late tonight. They were believed to be cadres of either Hizbul Mujahideen or Jaish-e-Mohammad. Reports from Baramulla said that two more unidentified militants were eliminated by troops of RR 36 Bn in an encounter at Sherbagh Kanlibagh today. Unidentified gunmen, believed to be militants shot dead a civilian, namely Tariq Ahmed Wani S-o Abdul Ahad Wani at his home in Ichhgooza village of Pulwama district late last night. Reports said that SOG Pulwama killed another civilian, Abdul Gaffar Mir S-o Ghulam Mohammad Mir, when he tried to escape in a raid at his house in Littar village of Pulwama. Residents staged a protest demonstration today and alleged that the civilianís death was totally unwarranted and unjustified. Militants today lobbed a hand grenade near JKPCC headquarters on Maulana Azad Road in the capital city. There was no damage in the blast.