Chinore wakes up to terror 28 Aug 2008, 0157 hrs IST,TNN

28 08 2008
JAMMU: “I wonder why political parties and human rights proponents insist on the human rights of terrorists while common people don’t even seem to have the right to live” — this from Sohan Lal Sharma, who witnessed the encounter between security forces and fidayeen that jolted Chinore on Wednesday.

“I’ll never forget this black Wednesday. I was on a morning walk around 5.30am with friends when we heard what sounded like gunshots,” recalls Sohan, a student of MSc (Information Technology). Perplexed, they looked in the direction from where the shots were heard. When they couldn’t quite get a hang of what had happened, they returned to their morning exercises, thinking it could have been crackers.

Half an hour later, Sohan says his mobile phone rang. “It was for a friend. His mother had called on my phone and, sounding distraught, asked us to get back to our homes quickly. Apparently, she had heard the news that terrorists had sneaked into the area and were engaged in a gunbattle with army jawans.”

Within a minute of her call, the father of another friend phoned, Sohan said, scolding them for strolling around in a place that was far too dangerous. “We realised at once the danger we were in. Terrorists had hit our locality. It left us cold for a minute,” he says.

It was barely a few months ago, in May, that infiltrators had struck at Samba. “While the two terrorists were killed, the photographer, Ashok Sodhi, along with five others was killed during that encounter with terrorists,” Sohan recalls with a shudder.

They immediately turned back and began walking away from the rattle of gunshots, making sure not to run and attract the attention of the army or the police. As they walked, the entire area was cordoned off. “We stopped there. Soon, the security forces began retaliatory fire. We knew it was dangerous to be there but couldn’t help it. Those who had been called by their parents returned home while I hung around,” says Sohan.

“Between deathly silences, there were these crackles of gunfire. Army vehicles kept moving in. Around 9 am, heavy firing began and continued until afternoon. I thought the idea was to ensure that the terrorists ran out of ammunition. But the terrorists were able to sustain by periodic firing. One of them was apparently shot. That’s what we heard,” he says.

Mediapersons, he remembers, were asked to enter the cordoned off area only in bulletproof gear. The security forces were not going to take any chances after the Samba encounter. As the day came to an end, Sohan recalls with expectation, the army and other paramilitary forces had tightened their noose around the house in which they had holed up.

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