Five security personnel, including commanding officer of the Rashtriya Rifles' 21 Battalion Col Ashutosh Sharma, were killed in an encounter with terrorists in the Handwara area of Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district on Saturday. As details started emerging, several reports claimed that Col Sharma's phone was answered by terrorists. However, the Army has said that it was just a speculation.
What was reported on May 3: When the outside team tried to reach Colonel Sharma on Radio, no one answered. After that, they called his mobile number which was picked up by a terrorist, who responded "Assalamualaikum". After this, special forces were pressed into action who entered the house, neutralised the terrorists, and recovered the bodies of Col Sharma and his team members.
A team of four RR21 soldiers, including Col Ashutosh Sharma, the CO, Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh Kumar, Lance Naik Dinesh Singh, and J&K Police Sub-Inspector Shakeel Qaz had entered a house in Handwara where the terrorists had taken civilians, hostage.
Indian Army clarifies
While the civilians were successfully extracted by the security personnel, the team was subjected to heavy firing from the terrorists. Speaking about the encounter, General Officer Commanding 15 Corps, Lt Gen BS Raju told local news website the Greater Kashmir that there was a call for help from inside.
"The first party that reached there was CO and four others including JK Police officer. Once the party entered the house, encounter started. Then the contact with the party was lost. They were fired upon inside the house leading to fatalities," he said.
Apart from Col Sharma and his team, two terrorists, including the operation LeT top commander Haider, a Pakistani militant, were killed. "Rest are speculations including the one that a phone call on the mobile phone of the Colonel was attended by a militant," Gen Raju was quoted as saying by the website.
Earlier, there were reports that when a team from outside contacted Col Sharma on his phone, a terrorist picked up the call and responded "Assalamualaikum". After this, special forces were pressed into action who entered the house, neutralised the terrorists, and recovered the bodies of Col Sharma and his team members.
Disclaimer: Ibtimes.co.in is going by the official word from the Indian Army on the Handwara encounter. Do not believe rumours or unverified reports.