Village Defence Guard killed in gunfight with militants in Udhampur

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

A massive search operation is underway to flush out the militants, who are believed to have recently infiltrated from Pakistan, they said.

The exchange of fire was reported from Panara village of Basantgarh when a patrolling party of police and VDGs confronted the suspected militants around 7:45 am, the officials said.

According to them, following an initial exchange of fire that last over half an hour, the militants fled deep into the forest area and were being chased by the security forces.

Village Defence Guard (VDG) member Mohd Sharief, a resident of Khaned, was critically injured in the firing and later succumbed to injuries, the officials stated.

“After receipt of inputs regarding movement of suspicious individuals late Saturday evening, J&K Police activated the security grid in Basantgarh police station limits. Today morning, a party of police picket Sang carrying along with them VDG members proceeded towards Chochru Gala heights where a face-off ensued with a group of hiding militants,” a police spokesperson said.

The Special Operations Group of police along with Army and CRPF parties were rushed to the area to strengthen the cordon and neutralise the militants, the spokesperson added.

According to official sources, there was information about 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.

The sources said the militants are believed to have infiltrated from 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, the sources said.

They said there was no fresh contact with the militants. — (PTI)