Gunfight in Rajouri
Photo: PTI

JAMMU — A Village Defence Guard (VDG) member was killed in a gunfight with militants in a remote village in Udhampur district early Sunday, officials said.

“The exchange of fire occurred when a patrolling party of police and VDGs encountered suspected terrorists around 7:45 am. Sadly, VDG member Mohd Sharief, a resident of Khaned, sustained critical injuries during the firing and later succumbed to his injuries,” an official informed the news agency KNO.

Later, the wreath of slain VGD was laid at Basantgarh, Udhampur where senior police and paramilitary forces paid respect to the deceased.

Speaking to media persons, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Jammu, Anand Jain said police received specific inputs regarding the movement of suspicious individuals late Saturday evening and accordingly, activated the security grid in Police Station Basantgarh limits.

“We received information about the movement of two or more groups of terrorists who were probably freshly infiltrated. The police picket Sang carrying along with them VDG members proceeded towards Chochru Gala heights as part of area domination where a face-off ensued with a group of hiding terrorists,” the AGDP said.

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Following an initial exchange of fire that lasted over half an hour, the militants fled deep into the forest area and were being chased by the security forces, he said, adding that the entire area has been cordoned off for sanitation purposes, with three militants spotted in the area and another group seen in nearby areas.

Meanwhile, a police spokesperson said a massive search operation is underway to flush out the militants, who are believed to have recently infiltrated from Pakistan.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Army helicopters have been pressed into service to trace down militants, while the Army’s Special Forces, Central paramilitary forces and Special Operations Group of police were rushed to the area to strengthen the cordon and neutralise the militants, the spokesperson added.

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According to official sources, there was information about the movement of two separate groups of militants, who infiltrated recently, from Kathua to Basantgarh. One of the groups with five members was confronted, while there was no trace of the other group which has four members and whose movement was last reported in the Machedi top area bordering Kathua, they said.

They said militants are believed to have infiltrated from the International Border in Kathua district and are heading to Kashmir via Chenab valley, taking advantage of the dense forest.

The Army airdropped special forces in the forest area and a massive search operation is underway to track and neutralise the militants, they said, adding that there was no fresh contact with the militants.

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