IAF Garuda Force personnel Sergeant Milind Kishor & Corporal Nilesh Kumar Nayan, who lost their lives in Bandipora encounter. Two Indian Air Force commandos martyred in part of a joint security team, and two militants were killed in a gunfight in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Wednesday morning. This is the first time Air Force commandos have been martyred in an encounter in Kashmir. They were with the army for operational experience and training. Usually, the airforce is not involved in encounters in the Valley.
The gunfight started when a joint patrol of the army, police and Garud commandos cordoned off an area in Hajin Bandipora after being alerted about the presence of militants, sources said. The militants opened fire early in the morning, injuring the two men who later died of their wounds.
Kalia said the gunfight was intense. “Two terrorists were killed and two air force Garud paras were martyred in the action,” he said. The firing had stopped and search operations were on, local sources said. The identity of militants, suspected to be from Pakistan-based Lashkar-a-Taiba, was yet to be ascertained.
The security forces have stepped up the offensive in the Valley with the government hardening its stand against militants after violent street protests and attacks on security personnel in the border state. The Garud force, tasked with guarding air force bases, trained in fight terrorists and insurgents and in search and rescue, origins lie in Jammu and Kashmir.
The need for a dedicated force was felt when militants attacked two air bases in Jammu and Kashmir in 2001. The first batch of Garuds was unveiled on February 6, 2004. It was Garud force that led the operation to flush out militants from Pathankot air base in January 2016.