On 8 July, soldiers of Rashtriya Rifles, led by Major Sandeep Kumar and Captain Manik Sharma, risked their lives amidst extremely hostile conditions to gun down the most deadly terrorists of the valley – Hijbul commander Burhan Wani and his aide Parvez Ahmed Lashkari. The trio of Major Sandeep Kumar, Captain Manik Sharma and Naik Arvind, who led the operation, have been awarded Sena Medal for their exemplary act. The details of the entire operation leading to the encounter of Burhan Wani have emerged, and it is nothing less than a chilling account often described in military operation novels.

Following specific actionable intelligence input that Sartaj Aziz and two other militants were hiding in a house in Bumdoora village, it was young Major Sandeep Kumar who planned the operation and led the crack team. He showed nerves of steel and exemplary restraint in the face of extreme provocation by the villagers who had gathered in numbers and started pelting stones on the army to protect Burhan. The village where these terrorists were hiding was cordoned off but the news of Army’s presence got leaked, making their task all the more challenging and risky.

The army, with the help of Jammu & Kashmir Police cordoned off the area so that terrorists could not escape. However, Major Sandeep Kumar, Captain Manik Sharma and Naik Arvind Singh Chauhan waited for long before they could lead their team in storming the house where the militants were holed up. Protesting crowds began swelling with every passing minute. The violent mob was shouting slogans and pelting stones on army contingent, making their entry to the house even more difficult. Leading the assault team, Captain Sharma and two other soldiers even made an attempt to enter the house as Major Kumar stood behind them, ready to provide cover fire. However, they had to retreat amid heavy stone-pelting by the mob which had surrounded the house where the terrorists were hiding.

Major Kumar and his team made another attempt to storm the house and the militants opened a burst of gunfire. Aziz made an unsuccessful attempt to escape, but was shot dead. Time was running fast and two more militants, who were believed to be inside, had to be neutralized. As violent protests grew more and more intense, Major Kumar sent for the local ‘Imam’ whose services were to be used to calm the villagers. Even with darkness increasing, there were no signs of aggression of villagers decreasing. With every passing moment, more people were joining the protest and pelting stones on army.

At that point, the valiant Major and his men then decided to storm the house at any cost. As soon as they tried to break in, they came under a hail of fire from two militants who attempted to escape. Militant Pervez Ahmad Lashkari was seen firing on the army contingent while he was shielding a man and pushing him towards a nearby apple orchard. Lashkari was gunned down in retaliatory fire by the crack team. After Lashkari was gunned down by the crack team, they challenged the lone surviving militant. With both his aides dead, the lone surviving terrorist started firing on the soldiers. However, he was soon neutralized by a hail of bullets from the bravehearts of Rashtriya Rifles. It was only later that they discovered the third terrorist was the most wanted Hijbul commander Burhan Wani.


Kshitij Mohan

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