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Kashmiri CRPF officer who died in hunt for Maoists always led from the front

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Ghulam Jeelani Khan, a 29-year-old Kashmiri CRPF officer, was leading his team in Senjani forest when he was electrocuted by a high-tension wire.

New Delhi: Ghulam Jeelani Khan, from Manjgran Muqam village in north Kashmir’s Baramulla, was a cheerful young Kashmiri officer of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) based in Maoist hotbed Jharkhand

On the evening of 31 December 2018, Khan, who was assistant commandant, CRPF, led his team in the Senjani forest of Jharkhand, where he was electrocuted by a high-tension wire.

Entry into paramilitary

Khan, 28, joined the paramilitary force on 3 June 2014, and completed his basic training at the CRPF Academy at Kadarpur, Gurgaon, and went on to undertake specialised counter-insurgency and tactics training.

Khan’s first posting with the 157 Battalion was in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, where he was engaged in operations against Left-wing extremists.

In August last year, Khan was instrumental in unearthing a huge Maoist dump of weapons and explosives in Chandur village of Khunti district.

He also volunteered to serve for a brief period in Kashmir during the local body polls between October and December.

Khan charisma

Khan was posted in the Maoist hotbed of Jharkhand’s Khunti district since October 2015.

“When he joined, everyone’s eyes were gleaming with pride that a smart and young Kashmiri boy is joining the force at the level of assistant commandant. He was a brilliant officer,” CRPF DIG Moses Dinakaran told ThePrint.

Khan impressed both his colleagues and seniors.

“He was cheerful and full of energy. He always cared for the comfort of his troops before (him)self. His excellent operational role ensured that his area was incident-free,” a CRPF official said.

“He also volunteered to serve in Kashmir, where he was deployed along with his troops for recently-concluded urban local body and panchayat polls.”

Also read: Record 247 terrorists killed in Kashmir this year, security forces to keep up the pressure

The incident

During the afternoon of 31 December, Khan went for a two-day operation with two platoons of C/157.

“Around 6 pm they noticed a torch light moving towards them. Khan moved swiftly to place an ambush along the path where suspected extremists were supposed to move. Leading from the front in the darkness, he was about to reach a dominating place to lay an ambush, when he came in contact with a live electric wire,” said the official.

Khan suffered serious injuries and was immediately taken to the nearest Primary Health Centre and then referred to the district hospital in Khunti where the doctors declared him dead. A post-mortem was conducted on Khan. The autopsy report is still awaited.

There had been incidents earlier where Maoists had laid a trap by snapping high-tension wires, Dinakaran said, adding that in this case it is yet to be established whether Maoists were behind it.

‘A martyr’

On 2 January, a wreath-laying ceremony was held in Baramulla, where senior officers of the CRPF and the Jammu and Kashmir police paid tribute to him. He was then buried in his native village.

Showering praise on Khan, Dinakaran said he was leading his team from the front and the fact that he died in the line of duty made him a martyr.

Major Gaurav Arya, a defence analyst, tweeted that Khan upheld the highest traditions of the force by saving lives of his fellow soldiers before embracing martyrdom.

“Who says Kashmir does not have heroes. Regret this loss deeply,” tweeted Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain (retd), a former GOC of Srinagar-based 15 Corps.

Khan is survived by his parents, three brothers and two sisters.

Also read: More killings, greater alienation: How the situation in Kashmir is slipping out of hand


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