Jammu: Rescued hostages recount incident

28 08 2008
Jammu: Rescued hostages recount incident
28 Aug 2008, 0943 hrs IST,AGENCIES


One of the hostages and the surviving child, recollecting the fearful incident.

JAMMU: It was a trauma they would have never imagined to came across. Fear could be seen on the faces of the seven hostages, including four children, who were held captives by the suspected LeT militants for 19-hours before being freed in a military operation on early Thursday. ( Watch )

Billu Ram, the owner of the house in which the terrorists were holed up, and his family members were rescued following the gunbattle that lasted till late Wednesday. However, a neighbour, his son, and a teacher present in the building were killed by the three terrorists, who were later shot dead by army personnel.

“The first to be brought out was Sarita, the wife of Billu Ram. She was injured. After that, his four children were rescued,” a police officer said.

The youngest of the children was Vipin Kumar, 2, while the other three were Kajal, 4, Ishant, 6 and Sheetal, 9.

“Later, Billo Ram, his brother Tarsem and his wife Ritu were rescued. Some of the hostages are still in shock,” the officer added.

Billo Ram, the father of the children, said, “I had lost hope. I had given up. It was God’s grace that they (the children) are safe. I am also thankful to the army for getting them out.”

“The operation is over. Our Special Forces have killed third militant early today,” army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel S D Goswami said.

Earlier TIMES NOW spoke to the mother and her children, who were holed up inside the house by the militants and were witness to the brutal killing of three other hostages, including the teacher of the children.

Mother Ritu, describing the entire episode, said, “They (militants) said ‘we will kill you’. We pleaded with them not to kill us and said take all the belongings and cash but please spare us. We have small children.”

She further said: “We were trapped inside the house. They came inside the house and started firing. We went out of the kitchen, into the bedroom and they again started firing. We kept screaming. They warned us not to go out of the room, or they will fire. They did not even give water to the children.”

Sheetal Kumar, one of the hostages and the surviving child, recollected the fearful incident and said, “We were in the kitchen. Somebody was at the gate and we thought it was the Army. But they broke the door and started firing.”

Meanwhile, Nishanth Kumar, another hostage child, said, “They killed one boy. They asked us to come out of the kitchen. We came out. They started firing. I was scared.”

“Three unidentified people came into the house. When they came, they killed three people. We were in another room, and locked the door. They tried to break the door. But couldn’t. We did not talk to them. We were in one corner of the room. They were just firing. There were totally nine of us inside,” the paternal uncle said.

‘We’re woken up by gunfire,” added the uncle. An eyewitness to the incident said that they were sleeping when the firing started. The eyewitness also added that the Army came in, and told them that there were militants in the next house, and at that time his parents were still inside in one of the neighbouring houses.

Three terrorists had crossed into Jammu and Kashmir from the Kanachak sector of the border with Pakistan Tuesday morning. They were intercepted at the police check post of Chinore, about 20 km north from the centre of Jammu, Wednesday morning.

The three militants, dressed in police uniforms and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, shot dead a junior commissioned officer (JCO) and then hijacked a three-wheeler. They then fired indiscriminately, killing Shabeet Hussain, a milkman, and motorcyclist Naseeb Singh before killing the three-wheeler driver, Vijay Kumar, police said.

The guerrillas then entered Billu Ram’s house. Police and army personnel cordoned off the area and had a gun battle with the militants. Grenade explosions and gun shots were heard in the area as the single-storey building was perforated with bullet marks. By late Wednesday, the army personnel managed to kill all three militants.

This was the second major gun battle in Jammu region in less than three and a half months. Six people were killed in Samba town, 40 km southwest of Jammu May 11.

According to defence sources, militants had infiltrated May 8 from across the international border in Samba sector before they surfaced May 11 morning and killed civilians and soldiers. Three militants were killed in that battle.