In a dark day for the army’s Special Forces (SF), five commandos belonging to an elite unit were killed in action along the Line of Control in Kashmir’s Keran sector on Sunday during an intense close-quarter battle with an equal number of terrorist infiltrators who were all eliminated, three officers familiar with the details said on Monday on condition of anonymity.
The bodies of the commandos and the terrorists were found barely two to three metres from each other, said the first officer cited above.
In a statement issued on Monday, the army said all five terrorists were killed in “an intense hand-to-hand battle.”
“The Indian Army launched a daring operation at the LoC and engaged Pakistani-supported infiltrators in a close-quarter battle in heavy snow, neutralising the entire infiltrating batch of five. Four soldiers under the command of a junior commissioned officer from one of the most professional Para SF units were heli-dropped near the LoC after information on the infiltrators was received,” the army said.
Three of the commandos were killed at the encounter site while two succumbed to their injuries while being airlifted to a military hospital.
The army began hunting for this batch of terrorists on April 1 when they infiltrated into Kashmir with ground troops reporting footprints near the LoC fence that was covered under snow, said the first officer cited above.
The army’s search teams made contact with the terrorists and engaged them in firefights four times between April 1 and April 4 before the commandos from 4 Para (SF) were called in to take over the operation and hunt the intruders, he said.
Commandos from 4 Para (SF) carried out key missions during the 2016 surgical strikes against terror pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The strikes were India’s first direct military response to the attack on the Uri army base in September 2016 that killed 19 Indian soldiers and was carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists.’.
“Based on visuals from unmanned aerial vehicles, the SF troops were staged forward to the nearest battalion headquarters by air as the location was winter cut off (due to heavy snow),” said the second officer cited above.
At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the five commandos began tailing the infiltrators following their footmarks on the snow. Several hours later, the footprints indicated that the infiltrators had gone towards a nallah and were hiding there.
“The SF men split into two squads and approached their target stealthily to prevent the terrorists from escaping,” said the third officer cited above. And that’s when tragedy struck.
“One of the squads didn’t realise that they were on a cornice. The complete snow block collapsed taking the squad leader and the two scouts down all the way to the nallah where the terrorists were sitting… It led to a close-quarter battle at almost point blank range,” the officer said. The two commandos in the other squad rushed to provide support to their comrades who were locked in an intense close-quarter fight with the terrorists. In the ensuing engagement, the five commandos were successful in killing all the infiltrators but at the cost of their own lives.
“Despite the fall, the commandos killed all the terrorists because of their superior training standards,” the officer said.
The army on Monday identified the fallen commandos as Subedar Sanjeev Kumar from Himachal Pradesh, Havildar Davendra Singh from Uttarakhand, Paratrooper Bal Krishan from Himachal Pradesh, Paratrooper Amit Kumar from Uttarakhand and Paratrooper Chhatrapal Singh from Rajasthan.
Army sources said while the world was fighting the Covid-19 pandemic with all its might, Pakistan was focused on abetting terrorism.
“Pakistan and its army are fomenting terrorism in India to hide its failure to fight Covid-19. The Indian Army is not only fighting Covid with utmost professionalism both in India and in neighbouring countries but it is also concurrently defeating Pakistan’s evil designs along the LoC and in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” the sources said.