Two senior Indian Army officers, two junior ranks, an officer of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and two terrorists were killed in a fierce gunbattle on Sunday, May 3, in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district.
Srinagar-based Defence Ministry spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia confirmed the martyrdom of the five security forces with their ranks.
- Col Ashutosh Sharma, 45
- Major Anuj Sood, 31
- Naik Rajesh Kumar, 30
- Lance Naik Dinesh Singh, 25
- Sub-Inspector Shakeel Qazi
An Army Colonel commanding a Rashtriya Rifles (RR) battalion in the Rajwar area of Handwara tehsil, a Major, commanding a company of the same RR battalion, a Lance Naik and a rifleman in addition to an officer of the SOG of local police were martyred in the 20-hour long gunfight between holed up terrorists and the security forces in the Chanjimulla village of Handwara tehsil.
CDS Rawat salutes martyred security forces
Operations in Handwara, J&K highlight the determination of the security forces to safeguard the lives of the people.
Commanding Officer leading from the front along with other personnel of the unit and J&K Police have laid down their lives, living upto the motto; Service Before Self.
The Armed Forces are proud of their courage as they have successfully eliminated the terrorists. We salute these brave personnel and express our deep felt condolences for the bereaved families.
J&K DGP Dilbag Singh on the martyrs
"Sad to inform that all five members of the original team including CO 21 RR Col Ashutosh Sharma ,Maj Anuj ,Police Sub Inspector Shakeel Qazi ,one Lc Naik and one rifleman,who entered the house to evacuate the civilians, were stuck inside due to heavy fire by terrorists and got martyred in the process," said The J&K DGP.
House inmates were rescued and two terrorists have also been killed in this encounter whose exact identity is being established.
Wife of Martyr Col Ashutosh Sharma is as brave as her Fauji husband. "Remember him, not as loss, but for passion of his duty. He had told me, mujhe unit sambhalna hai, tum ghar badiya sambhal logi," she said.
Recalling her husband's words, she said, "Ashutosh Sharma used to say will come back home the next day after I kill all the terrorists."
"He is keeping his promise. He will come home tomorrow but wrapped in a tricolour," she added.
Col Sharma leaves behind his wife, mother and a 12-year-old daughter.
7 killed in Kashmir gunbattle
Although firing has stopped at the encounter site, searches are going on there.
The Commanding Officer of the 21 RR (Colonel), a Major, two soldiers deployed as personal guards of the commanding officer in addition to a police Sub-Inspector of the SOG and his guard, a constable, had entered the house at grave danger to their lives to rescue civilians and to eliminate the holed up terrorists.
After the security personnel entered the house they lost radio contact with the surrounding security men triggering concern about their safety.
Top sources told a news agency that radio contact between the surrounding security men and those officers who had entered the house being used as a fortified bunker by the terrorists was lost around 2 pm Saturday.
Senior officers of the Army and the state police had reached the encounter site Saturday evening to supervise the operation and the final assault against the holed-up terrorists while ensuring that no collateral damage was caused to the civilians and property in the area.
This operation was initially launched jointly by the RR and the SOG of local police after reports that two to three terrorists were hiding in the Rajwar's densely forested area in the Handwara tehsil.
Fearing for their lives, the terrorists had come down and entered a local house in the Chanjimulla village without caring about the lives of the villagers.
Cremation of Col Ashutosh Sharma is likely to take place in Jaipur. He was actually from Bulandshar in Uttar Pradesh. However, his family is presently staying in Jaipur, Rajasthan
Major Sood is from Shimla but his family stays in Chandigarh.