Kashmir unrest: Despite heavy bombardment, terrorists stand their ground in Pampore

SRINAGAR: Heavy bombardment was done on the seven-storey Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) hostel building on Tuesday, to smoke-out the terrorists holed up in the concrete structure for more than 36 hours. One of them is believed to have been gunned down by the security forces.

From rockets to rocket-propelled grenades to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the army used everything to drive out the militants. The bombardments led to deafening noise and shook nearby villages, but militants remained inside, literally using the building as a concrete bunker.

The army had brought in the Special Forces of 9-Para. The unit was one of the detachments that carried out the surgical strikes on militant launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The militants, meanwhile, remained silent the entire Monday night, spurring speculations about their fate. On Tuesday evening, however, as the bombardment intensified, they fired indiscriminately on the troops, signaling that they were still alive. The security forces immediately engaged them in a gun battle, in which one of them is believed to have been killed.

“Operation is still on. We will share the details as and when we get them,” said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.

The operation started on Monday morning, when the militants cruised through Jhelum and occupied the hostel building. Eyewitnesses said a group of two to three militants came from the rear side and broke open the window to get inside the building.

“The watchman said there were two to three men. Since the main door was locked, they broke the window. Nobody knew at the time that someone has entered the building. The first thing they did was to set ablaze the roof of the building,” Ishfaq Ahmad Mir, in-charge of EDI publicity, told DNA.

Seeing the smoke billowing, the watchman rushed to call the fire brigade. “As they (fire brigade) tried to enter into the building, militants opened fire. It is a seven-floor building and all have 10 rooms each, except the ground floor. There are two training halls and a cafeteria on the ground floor. CCTVs have been installed on the first three floors,” Mir said.

He added, “A few days ago, we had floated tenders to establish security bunkers around the campus.” Security sources said, “It is not easy for a person to withstand such heavy bombardment. The entire area shook but the militants managed to stay on, which proves they are battle-hardened.”

Meanwhile, around 10 people, including two CRPF men, were injured when unknown militants hurled a grenade on police and security force deployment at Bona Bazar area of Shopian district in south Kashmir.