Jammu- Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday reviewed the security situation along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir as he visited the district of Rajouri, a day after five elite para commandos of the army were killed during an anti-militancy operation in the forested Kandi area of the district.
Singh condoled the deaths of the personnel and commended the security men for their valour and zeal while operating in challenging situations.
The minister’s visit also assumes significance as militants have killed 35 people, including 26 soldiers, in eight attacks in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch since October 2021. The two districts were declared militancy-free more than a decade ago.
“Visited the Army Base Camp in Rajouri, J&K today. Reviewed the operational capabilities and security situation along the border. Also, interacted with the brave soldiers of the Indian Army. India salutes their devotion towards protecting our motherland,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
In another post in response to a tweet by the Additional Directorate General of Public Information (ADGPI)-Indian Army paying tributes to the fallen soldiers, Singh said, “I pay homage to these brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice in service to the nation. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. My thoughts are with the bereaved families in this hour of grief.”
Officials said Singh, accompanied by Army chief General Manoj Pande and Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, reached Ace of Spades Division headquarters in Rajouri after a brief stopover in Jammu.
Five army personnel were killed and a major-rank officer was injured during a combing operation — Operation Trinetra — in the Kandi area on Friday. A holed up militant was killed and one more is believed to be injured Saturday morning.
Officials said the army chief reached Jammu from Delhi ahead of the defence minister, who followed him minutes later. Lt Governor also joined senior civil and army officers to receive the defence minister.
Northern Army commander Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, Corps commander White Knight Corps, and Divisional Commissioner, Jammu also accompanied Rajnath to Rajouri, they said.
After getting a brief on the operation in Kandi forest, the defence minister chaired a high-level security meeting to review the overall security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in Rajouri and Poonch before returning to Jammu, they said.
“H’ble Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh accompanied by the H’ble Lt Governor Shri Manoj Sinha & Gen Manoj Pandey #COAS, reviewed the security situation & ongoing counter terrorism operations in #Rajouri,” ADGPI tweeted.
In another tweet, it said the Raksha Mantri paid condolences to the #Bravehearts & interacted with troops. He commended them for their valour & zeal, while operating in challenging situations.
“He (defence minister) said the Nation feels ‘secure’ due to the eternal vigil & sacrifices by Army in hard & difficult areas,” it added.
Earlier in the day, Lt Gen Dwivedi visited the encounter site and was briefed on the developments in the ongoing Operation Trinetra by ground commanders.
The loss of five jawans in Kandi forest is the third major incident this year. It took place at a time when the forces had been engaged in a massive combing operation for the past 15 days following an ambush on an army truck in Bhata Dhurian (Poonch).
Five soldiers were killed and another was injured on April 20 when an army truck was bombed and strafed with bullets by militants.
More than 250 people were detained for questioning during combing operations in the wake of the incident. Six overground workers who extended full support to militants were arrested, they said.
According to military officials, militants now have adopted a strategy of engaging troops or attacking people, and then laying improvised explosive devices to harm government forces engaged in combing operations.
This also happened in Dhangri village in Rajouri where militants killed seven civilians in two attacks that came close on the heels of each other on January 1 this year.
In two major incidents in Rajouri in 2022, five army personnel and two militants were killed in a suicide attack at a security camp at Pargal-Darhal on August 11, while two civilians were killed in a firing incident outside an army camp near Rajouri town.
Four blasts rocked Kotranka in Rajouri district between March and April last year. All these cases were worked out by police with the arrest of the accused.
Nine army personnel were killed in two separate encounters with terrorists in Bhatta Durrian in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch districts in October 2021.
Two army personnel, one of them a lieutenant, were killed in a mine blast in Nowshera sector of Rajouri on October 30, 2021. Rajouri and Poonch districts have witnessed more killings of army personnel than the militancy-hit Kashmir Valley.
Northern Army Commander Visits Encounter Site
Amid an exchange of fire between militants and government forces, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi visited the encounter site in the Rajouri district on Saturday, an army spokesman said.
According to a defence spokesperson, contact has been established with hiding militants around 1.15 am on Saturday and the firing between the two sides was continuing when the last reports were received.
The Army said that General Officer Commanding-in-chief, Northern Command, was briefed on all aspects of the ongoing “Operation Trinetra” by ground commanders.
In a tweet, the Army Northern Command said, “OP TRINETRA Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi Army Commander Northern Command at ground zero, reviewing the operational situation on the ongoing operations at Kandi in Rajouri where contact was re-established with militants.”
“He was briefed on all aspects of the operations by ground commanders,” the tweet read.
The spokesman said a wreath laying ceremony for the Army personnel killed in the operation will be held at the Air Force station in Jammu shortly.
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