Four terrorists were gunned down by security forces in restive south Kashmir in an early morning encounter on Monday. According to initial reports, the terrorists belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit. Lassipora, the site of the encounter, is near the national Highway 1 A, where the February 14 blast took place. The security forces have launched a combing operation in the area. So far, the forces have recovered two AK rifles, 1 SLR and 1 pistol from the terrorists.
“Three army personnel and one policeman sustained injuries. They have been hospitalised and in a stable condition. It was a clean operation, no collateral damage happened during the encounter. Arms and ammunition recovered from site of encounter. Case registered,” Jammu and Kashmir Police said in a statement. The area has seen multiple security operations since the dastardly attack. On Saturday, a car belonging to a civilian exploded near a CRPF convoy in Banihal town of Jammu and Kashmir's Ramban district, officials said, adding that there were no casualties among the security personnel. The incident had occurred around 10.30 am, triggering memories of the February 14 vehicle-borne suicide attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama in Kashmir that claimed the lives of 40 personnel.
3 army personnel & one policeman sustained injuries. They've been hospitalized & in a stable condition. It was a clean operation, no collateral damage happened during the encounter. Arms & ammunition recovered from site of encounter. Case registered.https://t.co/XY8OHPOJLD— News Nation (@NewsNationTV) April 1, 2019
Officials said the car, a Hyundai Santro model, was completely gutted in the fire. Due to the impact of the blast, slight damage was caused to the rear of the CRPF bus registered with a Haryana number plate.
It is suspected that the car was carrying a mix of chemicals, explosives and LPG cylinders. "No injuries were caused to the CRPF personnel and the incident is being investigated in respect to all possible angles," a senior official said. About 10 vehicles were reported to be part of the CRPF convoy.
In view of the Saturday blast, the Centre has decided that the CRPF convoys moving to and from the Kashmir Valley will now be commandeered by a higher SP-rank officer and a single motorcade will not have more than 40 vehicles at any point of time. According to PTI, a set of new standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the force headquarters in Delhi for vehicle-mounted movement of troops in Jammu and Kashmir, and it has also been ordered that the 'passenger manifest discipline' for each vehicle in the convoy be strictly adhered to.
Amongst the first set of changed SOPs is the move to depute a second-in-command rank officer (equivalent to Superintendent of Police rank) of the force to lead the convoy instead of the current practice of a junior Assistant Commandant-rank (Assistant SP) officer heading the entourage. This is to ensure that the convoy is led by an experienced and senior officer who will have a better understanding and strategy to manoeuvre the convoy to and from the Kashmir Valley which is operationally very sensitive due to terrorist acts and IED threats, official sources said.
This will also upgrade the accountability hierarchy and the new convoy commander will now directly report and co-ordinate with one of the three Central Reserve Police Force Deputy Inspector General (operations) based in Kashmir.
Till now, the convoy commander or the Assistant Commandant used to report through the Commandant to their higher-ups.
On February 14, at least 42 CRPF personnel were killed in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district when a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 30 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district that also left many critically wounded. More than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, many of them returning from leave to rejoin duty in the Valley, were travelling in the convoy of 78 vehicles when they were ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Latoomode in Awantipora in south Kashmir.
(With agency inputs)