Tucked away in the remote hills of south Kashmir, the Rashtriya Rifles unit was celebrating as three of its soldiers, who were part of the team that gunned down militant commander Burhan Wani, were awarded the Sena Medal. Wani’s killing plunged the Valley into a welter of violence for months after his death in July last year.
Major Sandeep Kumar led the July 8 operation following “actionable” intelligence input that Sartaj Aziz and two other militants were hiding in a house in Bumdoora village.
The village, 18km southeast of Anantnag, was cordoned off but the news of army’s presence had already leaked. Amid protesting crowds, the team stormed into the house where all the militants were killed in the encounter.
It was a long wait for Major Kumar, Captain Manik Sharma and Naik Arvind Singh Chauhan before they could lead their team in storming the house where the militants were holed up.
Leading the assault team, Captain Sharma and two others even made an attempt to enter the house as Major Kumar stood behind them, ready to provide cover fire. However, they had to retreat amid heavy stone-pelting by the villagers.
Major Kumar and his team made another attempt to storm the house and the militants opened a burst of gunfire.
Aziz made an unsuccessful attempt to escape, but was shot dead.
Time was running fast and two more militants, who were believed to be inside, were to be accounted for.
As violent protests grew more and more intense, Major Kumar sent for the local ‘Imam’ whose services were to be used to calm the villagers.
With light fading away fast, there were no signs of villagers’ aggression or numbers diminishing.
The valiant Major and his men then decided to storm the house but came under a hail of fire from two militants who attempted to escape.
Militant Pervaiz Ahmad Lashkari was seen firing while shielding a man and pushing him towards a nearby apple orchard. Lashkari was gunned down in retaliatory fire by the crack team, which also challenged the lone surviving militant. He, too, was soon sprawled on the floor, dead.
It was later discovered that the last militant killed was Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, a popular resurgent militant leader in Kashmir who carried a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on his head.