Jammu & Kashmir: A Colonel, Major and two jawans of the Indian Army along with a sub-inspector of J&K police were martyred in an encounter with militants in North Kashmir’s Handwara on Sunday.

“Based on the intelligence input that terrorists were taking the civilian inmates of a house in Changimulla, Handwara of Kupwara district hostage, a joint operation was launched by Army and JK Police. A team comprising five Army and JK Police personnel entered the target area occupied by the terrorists to evacuate the civilians. The team of Army and JK Police entered the area and successfully extricated the civilians.

“However, during the process, the team was subjected to heavy volume of fire by the terrorists. In the ensuing fire fight, two terrorists were eliminated and the team of five army and JK personnel, comprising two Army officers, two Army soldiers and one JK Police Sub Inspector, attained martyrdom,” the official statement from the army said.

Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, the commanding officer of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles unit who lost his life in Handwara, was decorated twice for gallantry in counter-terrorist operations. 

After the incident many celebrities and politicians paid tribute to the security personnel who lost their lives during the fight against terrorists at Handwara in North Kashmir. 

Firstly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed condolence over the death of five security personnel. “Tributes to our courageous soldiers and security personnel martyred in Handwara. Their valour and sacrifice will never be forgotten. They served the nation with utmost dedication and worked tirelessly to protect our citizens. Condolences to their families and friends,” wrote the Prime Minister.

After PM, union home minister expressed his condolence via his twitter account in which he stated that ” I bow to our soldiers and security personnel martyred while protecting our motherland during an encounter with terrorists in Handwara in Jammu and Kashmir. Nation will always remain indebted to their supreme sacrifice. My deepest condolences to their bereaved families.”

President Ram nath Kovind also shared his grief in which he said that “Tributes to our brave soldiers and security personnel martyred in Handwara, J&K. A grateful nation will always remember their supreme sacrifice. The entire country stands united in the fight against the forces of terror and evil. Thoughts and prayers with the families of martyrs.”

Taking to Twitter, indian captain virat Kohli wrote that their sacrifices must not be forgotten. “Those who don’t forget their duty in any circumstances are true heroes. Their sacrifices must not be forgotten. I bow my head to the army personnel & the policemen who lost their lives at Handwara and sincerely send my condolences to their families and wish them peace. Jai Hind,” wrote Kohli.

Young wicket keeper and batsman Rishabh Pant not left behind to pay his tribute. He said that ” Heartfelt condolences to the friends & families of Handwara martyrs. Your unconditional service & sacrifices will never be forgotten. Jai Hind”.