Second time within eight months, the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) complex at Sempora in Pampore came under an attack by militants on Monday. The previous encounter, which happened in February, cost the security forces five lives. Being more cautious this time around, the security forces took their time to conduct the combing operations to avoid losing their men. As the encounter officially ends after more than 50 hours, here’s what all happened:
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When did it begin?
Early on Monday, the Director of EDI, Mohammad Ismail Parray received a call telling him that there was a fire at the institute complex. As firefighters and police approached the building, they were fired at. Since then, the Army, Jammu and Kashmir police and, paramilitary forces set up a perimeter to trap the militants in the building. Elite Para commandos of the army were also called in to neutralise the militants.
It was speculated that militants might have deliberately set the fire to attract forces towards the building. The militants are suspected to have entered the complex via the rear end after crossing the Jhelum from Shalin village.
Injuries and casualties
On the first day of the encounter, as the security forces approached the building between intermittent gun battle, one soldier was injured. As the combing operations reached its final stages on Wednesday, 52 hours after the attack began, two militants holed up inside the building were killed — one Tuesday and one Wednesday — and their bodies recovered. Number of casualties were minimised also because the building was mostly empty when the militants occupied it, with the hostels and offices largely vacant.
The building under attack
EID attracts youths from across J&K to its programmes on skill development and capacity building. The institute which started functioning in 2004 and trained over 4,000 youths ever since, had its main complex destroyed in February. The first four floors of the hostel building are used as office space since then. After a more than 50 hours encounter this time, even though most parts blown up the concrete building has been reduced to a skeleton, the Army on Wednesday firmly denied reports of bringing down the building.
On Monday, former J&K chief minister and National Conference chief Omar Adbullah mourned the attack on EID, tweeting, “All the EDI ever did was train young Kashmiri boys & girls to stand on their own feet & not seek government jobs. Militants don’t like that!”
The encounter also lasted for more than 48 hours. Two CRPF men were killed and 12 others injured. In the mopping-up operation that followed, the Army lost three personnel, including a Captain with the Paras. Police said that attack was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba cadres based in south Kashmir.