Drones and helicopters have been deployed to assist in locating and “neutralising” the terrorists. One of the terrorists has been identified as 28-year-old Uzair Khan from Nagam in Kokarnag, the area where Gadool is situated. Both terrorists are affiliated with The Resistance Force, a shadow group of the Pakistan-backed Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to police. Uzair Khan had joined the outfit in July 2022.
The operation was temporarily suspended overnight and resumed on Thursday morning, with reports of the movement of security forces and helicopters in the area. Reinforcements were rushed to the location as authorities sought to capture or kill the terrorists believed to be hiding in a natural cave in the mountains. A tight cordon was maintained around the area, and there were no immediate reports of fresh casualties.
The loss of Colonel Manpreet Singh, the commanding officer of 19 Rashtriya Rifles, Major Ashish Dhonchak, and DSP Humayun Bhat, the son of former J&K DIG Ghulam Hassan Bhat, marked one of the most significant setbacks for the Army in recent times. The Army’s last loss of a colonel-rank officer in counter-terrorist operations occurred in May 2020 when Col Ashutosh Sharma, the commander of 21 RR, was killed along with Major Anuj Sood, two soldiers, and a J&K police sub-inspector in the Chanjimulla area of Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
DSP Bhat was laid to rest near his family home in the Srinagar suburb of Humhama, while the bodies of Col Singh and Maj Dhonchak were being sent to their hometowns in Mohali and Panipat, respectively.
In Jammu, anti-Pakistan protests were held against the killing of four security personnel, including the three officers in Anantnag, and soldier Ravi Kumar of 66 RR, who died in an anti-terrorist operation in Rajouri district on September 12. Various groups paid homage to the slain men and demanded a massive operation against the terrorist ecosystem in J&K. BJP youth workers also held protests in the city, denouncing Pakistan and its actions.