Handwara Encounter: Two Indian Army Officers Among Five Security Personnel Martyred in Gunfight, Two Terrorists Including LeT Commander Killed

The Indian Army on Sunday lost four bravehearts while fighting with terrorists in Handwara town of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district. One Jammu and Kashmir police sub-inspector also attained martyrdom. The Indian Army personnel who lost their lives in the encounter, include Commanding Officer of 21 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) unit Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh Kumar and Lance Naik Dinesh Singh. J&K police officer has been identified as Shakeel Qazi. In the gunfight, two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, including its commander Haider were also neutralised. Col Navjot Singh Bal, Shaurya Chakra Awardee, Loses Battle to Cancer; Parents Stuck in Gurugram Due to Coronavirus Lockdown.

According to reports, a joint operation was launched by the J&K Police and the Indian Army after receiving intelligence inputs that the terrorists held civilians as hostage inside a home in Changimulla, Handwara. The team comprising of the five security personnel managed to successfully extricate the civilians. However, they came under heavy firing by the terrorists. The Army carried out the final assault to neutralise the terrorists after getting re-enforcements.

Col Sharma and Major Sood belonged to 19th Battalion of the Guards, while Naik Rajesh and Lance Naik Dinesh belonged to 3 Guards and 17 Guards respectively. Col Sharma, had been part of several successful counter-terrorism operations in the past. He was the only commanding officer who was decorated for gallantry twice while carrying out operation in Kashmir. The senior officer had received gallantry as a CO when he killed a terrorist who was running towards his men with a grenade hidden in his clothes. Col Sharma was a recipient of bar to the Sena Medal. Kanika Rane, Wife of Martyred Major Kaustubh Rane of Indian Army, Set to Join Officers Training Academy in October.

Col Sharma and Major Sood knew each other since the time when the latter went on a battalion trip to Jammu and Kashmir while undergoing training at the Inian Military Academy (IMA).. At that time, Col Sharma was Major. Later, Sood was also commissioned into the 19th Battalion of the Guards. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General MM Naravane saluted the bravery of the security personnel.