The gunfight in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir has entered fifth day and is the year’s longest and deadliest gunfight as seven Indian army personnel, including two Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) were killed.
The gunfight startecd on 11 October in DKG area of Poonch after the government forces found suspicious movement along the Line of Control, that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan. The LoC is over 10 kilometers from where the gunfight is ongoing.
The Pir Panchal area of Jammu division has seen an unusual spurt of gunfights as it has witnessed five severe gunfights since 8 July this year, in which six militants and nine government forces personnel including two Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) were killed.
Since Monday atleast contact with the militants have been established four times, who are believed to be from a militant outfit Peoples Anti Fascist Front (PAFF) – as per reports. The front is believed to have emerged post-August 2019 when Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its limited autonmy.
A police official, who is part of the on going operation, told The Kashmir Walla that reinforcement has been called in and all attempts are being made to kill the militants. “It is taking time to track down [militants] due to the diificult terrain and dense forests,” he said.
The area cordoned as per the official is spread over three kilometeres. “Several areas have been pin pointed in the region,” an official said.
Three of the five attacks carried out in the Pir Panchal area were claimed by the PAFF – believed by the police to be a Lashkar-e-Taiba offshoot.
Lashkar-e-Taiba is a militant outfit based out of Pakistan that was seen last month holding rallies in support of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in videos, viral on social media.
Lieutenant General Deependra Singh Hooda, the former General Officer Commanding of the Indian army’s Northern Command in an interview had said, “There will be attempts. Lashkar and Jaish will certainly try and make attempts in [J-K].”
Nearly a month after government forces claimed to have foiled an infiltration bid in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri, on 6 August, another gunfight broke out in Thanamandi area of Rajouri nearly 90 kilometres away from Sunderbani along LoC.
Experts believe that gunfights in the forest areas have disadvantages for government forces as in the past many gunfights that took place in dense forests caused damage to government forces.
Government forces lost atleast 22 soldiers in gunfights and during infiltartion bids along LoC since April last year. Among them 3 JCOs, one colonel, one captain were killed.