An ambush in city outskirts killed eight soldiers on the eve of Prime Minister’s visit. It was continuation of serious assaults on security set up that exhibited an upswing after Afzal Guru was hanged in February. Wasim Khalid explores the trend that seemingly has educated and apparently intelligent recruits.
On hot summer afternoon of June 24, two young men equipped with sophisticated rifles and arms hiding beneath their pheran (traditional gown) snatched a bike from two boys. They rode it to the city outskirts towards Gulbarag colony near Hyderpora.
The two men brought their bike to a halt near Classic Hospital on Srinagar-Muzaffrabad highway seemingly due to less civilian movement in the area.
They disembarked from the two-wheeler when they saw an army convoy coming towards them.
After the first three trucks crossed the duo, they prudently pin-pointed the fourth truck belonging to the army’s counter insurgent unit 35 RR. The last truck carrying bulk of the army personnel was travelling at a considerable distance from the other three trucks. Fixing their target, both of them immediately took position at two different places to mount an attack which would inflict the maximum damage.
In a flash, one of the armed men stood fearlessly in the middle of the road. As the army truck approached close to him, he took out his automatic rifle and opened fire breaking the front glass of the truck. His accomplice targeted the rear end of the vehicle. He first fired a rifle grenade which landed inside the truck, and then opened a volley of fire.
This well coordinated ambush left eight army troopers dead while other 13 sustained critical injuries. It did not end there.
Later the attackers fled from the spot on the same bike through a road connecting Hyderpora with Barzulla. As they reached near Barzulla, they were asked to stop at a checkpoint established by the CRPF and Policemen. They responded by firing indiscriminate leaving a CRPF Sub Inspector critically injured.
Thereafter, they abandoned the two-wheeler and escaped in a black color Santro car. The motorcycle was later seized by the police along with its owner who had already reported the theft.
Interestingly, Hyderpora attack was carried out a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were scheduled to arrive in Kashmir on a two-day visit. The valley was already put on high-alert as on June 22, suspected militants had managed to gun down two J&K Police personnel at Hari Singh High Street. In a span of three days ten security personnel were killed.
The impact of the attack was such that the authorities had to impose restrictions and erect check points to radically bring down the movement and alleviate the threat of the attack during the stay of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other top notch leaders from New Delhi.
If we look at past, this audacious attack on the army within the limits of city has come after four years. Earlier, nine army personnel were killed in 2009 after an IED blast targeted bus carrying Indian army troopers on the city outskirts at Narbal.
Since 2009, the past four months, post the hanging of parliament convict Afzal Guru were bloodiest.
In these months there have been four major attacks in Kashmir apart from the targeted killing of troopers and policemen.
On 13th March, 2013 militants struck at Bemina area in Srinagar killing five CRPF men. Two militants also died in the ensuing gun battle.
Next was a well planned ambush on police party killing four policemen in Hygam in North Kashmir’s Sopore area on April 26, followed by another attack on May 24 in south Kashmir’s Tral area which left a militant and four army men dead. But June 24 Hyderpora attack was the deadliest attack so far.