The stand-off between militants and security forces at Pampore in south Kashmir entered its third day on Monday, even as the sounds of gunfire and explosions rent the air.
Sources said the 40-hour encounter was nearing its end, and the army was undertaking its final assault against the terrorists – believed to be two to four in number.
The gunfight had started on Saturday evening, when guerrillas took shelter in a Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute complex after attacking a CRPF bus at Sempora, Pampore, on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
“Two buildings in the campus have already been cleared. The militants are holed up in the main building, which has about 40 to 50 rooms – besides small rooms and toilets. The building needs to be cleared from room to room, which will take time. However, our specialised units are undertaking the operation with complete synergy,” said Lt Gen Satish Dua, general officer commanding.
The encounter has already cost six people – three armymen, two CRPF personnel and a civilian – their lives . Sources said the militants have been restricted to a small area, and one of them was presumed killed.
Though over 100 people were present at the Pampore training centre when the militants barged in, they were allowed to leave unharmed.
Army spokesperson NN Joshi confirmed that the operation was still on, but refused to share further details.
Meanwhile, the wreath-laying ceremony of captain Tushar Mahajan and lance naik Om Prakash of 9 Para was conducted at the army’s Chinar headquarters in Srinagar.
Captain Mahajan (26), being a Jammu & Kashmir resident, will be cremated with full army honours at Udhampur. The son of well-known educationist Dev Rah Gupta, captain Mahajan had enlisted in the army six years ago after completing a course at the National Defence Academy, Pune.
Prakash’s mortal remains will be flown to his native village, Chikhal in Himachal Pradesh, for last rites. He was awarded the Asadharan Suraksha Seva Praman Patra gallantry award on Independence Day in 2013.