On Sunday evening, I was sitting in my parents' home in Baramulla town, when few hundred metres south of our house, a volley of gunshots broke the evening calm. This was followed by at least a dozen blasts for the next two hours, and firing continued till midnight.
Majority of residents with whom I spoke to on the phone thought it was Kashmir police shelling the old town of Baramulla and trying to arrest stone-pelters. But as the firing intensified, it was clear that militants had either attacked the 19 Infantry division of Baramulla or the 46 RR Headquarters; both face each other across the river Jhelum.
Baramulla is a garrison town. It is also the headquarters of 46 RR, which was attacked by militants on Sunday evening at around 10:20 pm, and is located on Baramulla-Kupwara national highway and few hundred metres from old town, but is guarded from four sides by soldiers round the cloak.
“The sound of the gunfire was so heavy that I thought the militants had attacked DC office in our neighbourhood. We could not muster the courage to peep through the window,” Sajad Haider, a resident of Dewan-Bagh, which faces the RR camp from across the river Jehlum, told Firstpost on Monday morning.
We will only know how the militants managed to come even close to the camp after investigations are over. But what we know is that one BSF jawan was killed while another injured in this 'fidayeen' (suicide) style attack on a BSF and adjoining army camps in Baramulla.
In the 27 years of the insurgency in Kashmir, despite being so close to the once hub of militancy in early nineties, the militants have never been able to strike this camp, which also houses a cricket stadium in a locality called Stadium colony.
“It was surprising, even during the worst years of militancy and being so close to old town, never was this camp attacked. As far as I remember correctly, this is the frist,” Yakoob Ahmad, a resident of Azad Gunj, told Firstpost outside his home early on Monday morning.
When an armed insurgency started ebbing in the Valley, locals had requested the army to open the stadium for cricket tournaments. The stadium lies inside the fenced wall of the camp. Not only did the army allow the people to play cricket inside the stadium, but it also organises many cricket tournaments for local boys throughout the year. Few years back, the army had also started providing free coaching to students in winters in a building adjacent to the camp and the cricket ground.
Locals said the army had recently used boats to ferry its soldiers from the new town of Baramulla occasionally to avoid clashing with stone-pelting crowds on three bridges, which connect the old with the new town of the Baramulla.
Throughout the night, the army illuminated the entire area, perhaps to give less chance to militants to enter the camp and also to see that they don’t run away and manoeuvre around.
At the time of the filing of this report, the army could be seen carrying out combing operations around the camp and on the banks of river Jhelum, which crisscrosses through Baramulla town before entering Pakistan.
Sources, however, maintain the number of the militants was not known but they maintain that militants were not able to breach the RR camp.
Unconfirmed reports had earlier said that two militants have been killed, while two managed to flee from the site. It is quite possible the militants might have used the large swaths of land filled with vegetation, which is cultivated by local people, to flee from the spot.
Helicopters hovered over the area throughout the night illuminating the entire area after the firing stopped no was able to move towards the Azad Gunj area.
First Published On : Oct 3, 2016 08:52 IST