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'I had no option but to lead my men'
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar |
October 20, 2003 19:03 IST
Pramod Kumar Yadav, officiating commanding officer of the Border Security Force's 43 Battalion, was on Friday morning on a routine patrol, completely unaware that shortly he would be involved in the biggest gun-battle of his life.
While he was strolling leisurely near Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's residence in Srinagar, he heard gunshots coming from Gate 2.
He rushed to the gate and was shocked to find two of his troopers dead.
Before he could fully assess the situation a grenade exploded nearby and he was wounded.
"My boys immediately took out the first aid box and bandaged my wounds. Then we rushed to the nearby Ali Jan Shopping Complex, where the militants had entered after attacking the BSF troopers near the CM's residence. They were hurling grenades and firing from automatics. After the initial review of the situation, I ordered my guards to encircle the building till reinforcements arrived," says the CO.
Reinforcements finally arrived. The entire area was sealed and the militants were engaged.
He says, "In the meantime, DIG BSF and senior police officers arrived and we immediately finalised a strategy on how to deal with the situation. It was during that period that I got a message from my boss that many civilians were trapped inside the building. This was a big challenge. After a change of strategy we decided to evacuate the civilians, among who were seven trainees of a computer centre.
"Our efforts bore fruit when we succeeded in evacuating three civilians from a showroom inside the complex. Then we evacuated five more and finally the trainees."
But while the police were evacuating the trainees, the militants opened fire and Yadav was hit on the hand. "The bullet was lodged in my hand. I needed medical help and after first aid I returned to the complex… I had no option but to lead my men," he says.
After the civilians were rescued, the security forces occupied the ground floor of the building. "A gun-battle started as my troops began to advance. We decided to mount the final assault early Saturday morning after clearing the ground floor.
"During the night we secured a portion of the first floor and we restricted the movement of militants between the second and third floor. We succeeded in isolating them."
One militant was killed on Saturday morning. "The other continued to hurl grenades and fire at us. We managed to reach the third floor and kill the fidayeen.
"In all the militants hurled 20 hand-grenades and fired indiscriminately during the 24-hour gun-battle."
While speaking to rediff.com, the soldier has high fever, a bullet and five splinters lodged in his body. "I am on high antibiotics and doctors are preparing me for surgery," he adds.