Anantnag encounter: An intelligence-based operation gone wrong?
Defence sources have disclosed that two terrorists, affiliated with the Pakistan-backed terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), executed an ambush-style attack. This marks the second major terrorist attack on security forces in south Kashmir within two months
The tragic Anantnag encounter, which claimed the lives of four personnel, including the commanding officer of the Army's 19 Rashtriya Rifles counterterrorist unit and a dedicated Deputy Superintendent (DySP) of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, was an intelligence-based operation gone wrong. Defence sources have disclosed that two terrorists, affiliated with the Pakistan-backed terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), executed an ambush-style attack.
The fallen heroes in this operation included gallant figures: Colonel Manpreet Singh, his company commander Major Aashish Dhonchak, and DySP Humayun Bhat. Notably, DySP Bhat is the son of a retired Inspector General of the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
In the heat of the encounter, Colonel Singh, who was at the forefront, alongside Major Dhonchak and DySP Bhat, fell victim to the attackers' bullets. According to sources, additional soldiers sustained injuries, with the commanding officer in critical condition.
Unfortunately, the evacuation efforts faced substantial challenges, as chaos reigned and helicopters couldn't safely land due to the ongoing firefight. The terrorists even targeted the helicopter with gunfire.
This tragic loss of three officers occurred a day after the death of a soldier and a canine soldier in Rajouri. It is a significant setback for the security forces and intelligence agencies, who have struggled to identify and neutralize a group of terrorists operating freely in the Poonch Rajouri region.
This marks the second major terrorist attack on security forces in south Kashmir within two months. On August 4, terrorists targeted three soldiers of the 34 Rashtriya Rifles in the Halan forest in the neighbouring Kulgam district. The culprits behind that attack, believed to be from both the Valley and across the border, remain at large.
The Anantnag encounter has further complicated the administration's efforts to restore normalcy in the Valley, especially with the upcoming panchayat and urban local body elections next month. While the Valley has experienced a relative lull in terror incidents, Rajouri and Poonch districts, located south of the Pir Panjal mountain range in the Jammu region, have become hotspots for such attacks. Over the past two years, the army has lost 25 soldiers in these districts along the Line of Control, characterized by rugged terrain and dense forests.
However, officials in the security establishment believe that conducting urban local body polls in October or November will not pose a significant challenge for the administration. Elections have taken place even during periods of heightened militancy, and the recent spike in violence in Rajouri and Poonch is not expected to have a major impact on the polls, according to a home department official.