Incessant rains, darkness and heavily-armed alert militant cost the army with the lives of a Major and a soldier in a gunbattle in north Kashmir's Bandipora district on Tuesday evening. The Major had played a significant role in "containing militancy and maintaining peace in the district for the past two years".
At around 8 pm on Tuesday, the army and the police's special operation group started working on a tip-off about presence of militants in a village in Chittibandi, Bandipora, 60 north of Srinagar. The joint operation was successful in throwing a cordon around the house where suspected militants were hiding.
"It was dark and raining. The operation party started advancing towards a house. The hiding militant started firing at the cordon party. He lobbed a grenade and opened indiscriminate firing," Additional SP Bandipora Shamsher Hussain told the Hindustan Times.
The exchange of fire lasted only for five minutes. In the first bout of exchange of fire, the militant managed to hit Major Yogendra Rajbar and Rifleman Uttam Singh. Both later succumbed to their injuries at a military hospital.
The militants off late have adopted a new approach to break through cordons. "When militants sense they have been zeroed in, they use full fire power in the first 15 minutes to break the cordon," said a senior police officer. In the last five months, militants have managed to escape more than ten times after being cordoned off by security forces.
"The officer had been operating in the area for close to two years, wherein he maintained peace in his area, which is a known hub of militancy owing to its terrain," said Defence spokesperson Lt Col J.S. Brar.
His mother, a sister and a brother survive the officer, who is a resident of Dehradun. His wife and a two-year-old daughter survive the Rifleman.
Incessant rains botched the operation up also. "The area is mountainous and forested and it has been raining heavily in the last two days," said Brar.
The army lifted the cordon of the area around 6 am in the morning. No weapons were recovered from the site of operation. "We believe only one militant was hiding in the house. The locality is also heavily inhabited. The militant took advantage of the darkness and locality to escape," Hussain told the Hindustan Times. The army was mum about the allegiance of the escaped militant.