Tale of 2 CRPF bravehearts: Alert soldier raised alarm on militant attack in Kashmir, another fell to enemy bullets

Constable Mojahid Khan rang up his mother in Bihar’s Bhojpur district at 9.52am and promised to attend a family wedding in March, barely 30 minutes before he was killed in the shootout near his camp.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2018 22:36 IST
Rajesh Ahuja and Prashant Ranjan
Rajesh Ahuja and Prashant Ranjan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Ara
CRPF,Srinagar terrorist attack,CRPF camp
Paramilitary trooper Mojahid Khan of the 49 Battalion who died of a bullet wound.(Photo by special arrangement)

In the biting winter cold of Srinagar, not a soul was stirring at 4am on Monday. But Raghunath Ghait of the CRPF’s 23 Battalion was waiting alert at the main sentry post, with his weapon drawn.

The 27-year-old constable sounded a warning when he saw two men in military fatigues scampering towards his camp, where his colleagues and their families were fast asleep. The armed duo carrying a heavy rucksack didn’t respond, or stop, prompting him to fire a volley of shots.

The gunshots forced the two militants to retreat and sprint across a bylane to a four-storey building under construction in the Karan Nagar area. The shots also alerted fellow CRPF guards and awoke those sleeping.

“The building has been cordoned off and an operation is on to flush out the militants,” said a senior paramilitary officer who doesn’t want to be named.

Another officer said extreme caution is being exercised in the operation and the troopers are not using heavy weapons as Karan Nagar is a congested residential area.

Ghait Raghunath Ulhas of the CRPF’s 23 Battalion. (Photo by special arrangement )

The CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police evacuated around 25 families from the area. They have Ulhas of Maharashtra, who joined the CRPF in 2014, to thank for averting a situation akin to the Sunjuwan military station attack in Jammu, where six people were killed on Saturday and Sunday.

The CRPF and police went after the militants holed up in the building, triggering a gunfight in which paramilitary trooper Mojahid Khan of the 49 Battalion died of a bullet wound.

“We lost a soldier during the encounter but the bravery of another soldier helped save many lives,” CRPF director general RR Bhatnagar said.

Constable Khan rang up his mother in Bihar’s Bhojpur district at 9.52am and promised to attend a family wedding in March, barely 30 minutes before he was killed in the shootout near his camp.

His family members in Piro, his native village 92km southwest of Patna, said he spoke to his sister-in-law too.

Youngest of five brothers, Khan was a bachelor. His three elder brothers are in Dubai, while the eldest lives in Piro with their parents. His two sisters are married.

Brother Mohammad Khan said he received the sad news at 10.30am. “Our parents and the women in the family haven’t been told about his death … we simply said Mojahid has been wounded in a militant attack.”

Khan last visited his village in November last year. The family had planned to find a bride and fix the soldier’s wedding the next time he’s home on leave. But the brave brother will now return in a coffin.

Security measures across Kashmir Valley were scaled up after a suicide attack in January that left five CRPF troopers dead. Monday’s attack follows intelligence alerts about heightened militant strikes in the first fortnight of February.

“We had put all our units on high alert following intelligence inputs about an impending attack on the death anniversary of Maqbool Bhat,” CRPF chief Bhatnagar said.

Bhat was a co-founder of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and hanged in 1984 in New Delhi’s Tihar jail. Another separatist Afzal Guru was convicted and hanged for the 2001 Parliament attack.

“The month of February marks the death anniversaries of both Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat. Hopefully, we will manage to thwart all acts that threaten to disturb law and order,” said SP Vaid, the state’s director general of police.

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 22:09 IST