An encounter between the border security forces and suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants in South Kashmir’s Lethapora, which went on for over 24 hours, ended on Monday. Five CRPF personnel were killed and three injured in the attack. Three militants were killed in the encounter.
The slain CRPF personnel have been identified as inspector Kuldeep Roy, head constable Tufail Ahmad, and constables Sharifuddin Ganai, Rajender Jain and Pradeep Kumar Panda.
Around four heavily armed militants had stormed the 185 battalion CRPF training camp in Lethapora around 2 am on Sunday. The militants targeted the main building area of the camp that houses family quarters, hospitals and a signal centre. About two dozen CRPF personnel were inside the building when the militants stormed the camp. The Army and J&K police rushed to the area, and their first task was to evacuate the personnel.
Two militants were gunned down on Sunday while the body of the third militant was recovered on Monday, following which the security personnel ended the search operations.
A 16-year-old suicide bomber, identified as Fardeen Khanday, was among the three militants killed in the encounter. An undated eight-minute video of the teenager was released by Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Mohammad on Monday, in which he was seen appealing to the Kashmiri youths to join the “fight against India”. Khanday, son of a Jammu and Kashmir policeman, joined militancy three months ago. Read | CRPF camp attack: 16-year-old suicide bomber among three JeM militants killed in Pulwama
The attack is purportedly in response to the recent killing of Jaish militant, Noor Mohammad Tantray and comes days after Indian security forces claimed to have killed three Pakistani soldiers in a cross-LoC attack.
Condemning the deadly attack, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, “It was a cowardly attack by terrorists. We are proud of our brave jawans, their sacrifice won’t go in vain. The entire nation stands with their families.”
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also condemned the act of terror. Terming it “dastardly”, the chief minister said violence had taken a heavy toll in the state in terms of death and destruction, tearing apart of the social fabric, inflicting massive economic, academic and social losses besides the irreparable loss of human lives.
Director General of Police S P Vaid termed the attack “unfortunate” and lashed out at Pakistan for sending militants to India. He also said the security forces failed to prevent the attack despite receiving a tip-off about an impending fidayeen strike. “There was an input from the last two-three days. They (militants) were trying. They probably could not get a place and time earlier. So, they struck last night,” Vaid said.
Meanwhile, the Congress took the opportunity to step up its attack on the BJP government, calling the attack an outcome of the failure of India’s foreign policy. After the terror attack on a CRPF camp in Pulwama, Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev said such attacks send a message that anti-national forces do not fear India. Read | Pulwama attack: Congress attacks govt’s foreign policy
Jammu and Kashmir National Conference president Omar Abdullah expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in the militant attack, saying, “As the year draws to a close we get a terrible reminder of how bad things are in the valley. My condolences to the families of the CRPF personnel killed in the attack.”