In a tragic development to the Keran sector operation in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), as reported by 'The Watchdog News' yesterday, in which five terrorists had been neutralised, and a soldier killed in action, army sources have now revealed that an entire squad of five operators from the Indian Army's elite 4 Para Special Forces (4 Para SF) have laid down their lives in the line of duty.
Following intelligence inputs, two special forces teams, comprising of men from 4 Para, were scrambled to counter an infiltration attempt by heavily armed terrorists. The operation ended up with the special forces soldiers ending up barely six feet from the terrorists, resulting in a brutal engagement with the infiltrators, in extreme close-quarters under hellish weather conditions, forcing the elite operators being forced to fight the terrorists in heavy snow.
Army sources have said the firefight "bore the hallmarks of an intense close quarters battle (CQB)." All the infiltrators were successfully neutralised by members of 4 Para, however the elite unit sustained significant causalities, with three special forces operators having been killed in combat, while two more special forces men succumbing to their injuries after being airlifted to a military hospital.
How it Went Down
According to higly placed sources, the special forces operation began after an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) picked up intelligence about an ongoing infiltration attempt on Wednesday, in J&K's Keran sector.
On Saturday two specialised teams (divided into five man squads) comprising of men from 4 Para SF were selected, deployed and tasked to locate and eliminate the infiltrators, as the heavy snow had made movement for regular army units in the area near impossible. With battalions being cut off by the winter snow, the commando team had to chopper it in and were subsequently airdropped to the operational zone.
Over the next two days it became clear to the special forces team that the infiltrators had been holed up into a part of Kupwara's dense Zurhama forest, however the testing weather conditions made the execution of the operation extremely complex, with the special forces troopers moving forward towards the threat despite having barely any visibility in challenging terrain.
"Despite the overwhelming operational challenges squad leader Subedar Sanjeev Kumar applied great presence of mind and efficiently tracked the footprints left by the terrorists in the snow" said an army source. "The team proceeded to follow their squad leader, whilst keeping their eyes peeled for possible hostiles," added the source.
During the ongoing search for the hostiles, the team experienced a cruel twist of fate; realising that while tracking the terrorists foot steps, they had accidentally stepped on a cornice (an overhanging mass of hardened snow at the edge of an mountain precipice) within seconds the cornice gave out right under their feet, with three members of the elite special operations team falling into a nallah, landing right on top of the terrorists who had been hiding there.
In just moments, a brutally chaotic chaotic and intense close quarter battle ensued, a scenario in which the terrorists held the tactical advantage, as they had been waiting. "The three special forces men, despite being caught at a significant tactical disadvantage put up a fierce fight, with their remaining two comrades swiftly jumping into the nallah in-order to provide combat support to the three operators engaging the terrorists inside.
Speaking to 'The Watchdog News' an army officer knowledgeable about the incident, told this publication on the condition of anonymity, "This counter-terror operation was immensely chaotic because the terrorists and the special forces personnel were just barely a few feet from each other, making it difficult for the other squad to effectively reach their position for fire support.
Despite the overwhelming odds, the boys from 4 Para fought like lions!" Havildar Davendra Singh and Paratroopers Bal Krishman, Amit Kumar and Chatrapal Singh; five elite soldiers from the Indian Army's coveted 4 Para SF laid down their lives in the line of duty.
4 Para is the same special operations unit which carried out the '2016 Surgical Strikes' in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), in which operators from this elite unit eliminated 38 terrorists.
Further details will be updated by 'The Watchdog News'