For the first time in the last 27 years of insurgency, two Indian Air Force (IAF) commandos, part of counter-terror operations, were killed in a fierce gunfight with terrorists at Hajin in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Wednesday.
Two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists, also involved in the killing of Kashmiri BSF constable Mohommad Ramzan Parrey, were killed in the encounter.
Two IAF’s elite Garud commandos were part of the operational team of Rashtriya Riffles of the Indian Army which launched a cordon and search after receiving a tip-off about the presence of terrorists at Paribal village of Salamabad in Hajin area.
After the attack on the Pathankot air base last year, it was decided that Garud commandos should be put on live situation training in counter-insurgency operations.
The first batch inducted in August comprising two squads is currently undergoing a six-month training. They went through a four-week pre-induction training before being deployed with the Army. The two squads have 28 personnel led by one officer each.
When the team was zeroing in on the target, they came under heavy fire from the terrorists. One Garud commando received gunshot wounds and died on the spot, while another injured commando was shifted to hospital where he succumbed.
“The Garud personnel were operating with the Army for operational experience and training”, said Colonel Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Srinagar.
The two slain soldiers were identified as Sergeant Milind Kishor and Corporal Nilesh Kumar Nayan. Kishor was from Sakri town of Nashik in Maharashtra. The 33-year-old had joined the IAF in 2002. Nayan was from village Udhadih of Bhagalpur district in Bihar. The 31-year-old had donned the uniform in 2005.
It is for the first time the Garud commandos were part of an anti-terror operation in the Valley. Raised in September 2004, the Garuds are the elite commandos of the IAF. There are only 1000 Garud commandos in IAF across India.
“The mortal remains of the martyrs were flown to their native places, where they would be laid to rest with full military honours. In this hour of grief, the Army stands in solidarity with the bereaved families and remains committed to their dignity and well being”, said Colonel Kalia.
The two militants killed were identified as Nasrullah Mir alias Anna, a local LeT man, and Ali Bai alias Maaz alias Abu Bakker, a Pakistani active in Hajin area.
“Both terrorists were involved in many attacks”, said Vidhi Kumar Birdhi, deputy inspector general of police, North Kashmir Range.