Four including an Army Major was injured in an encounter that broke out between security forces and terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district in early hours on Monday. The forces had got specific tip-off about 2-3 terrorists. As of latest information, the gunmen are believed to be trapped inside a building in Pulwama’s Pinglan area. The site of ongoing gun battle is barely 10 km away from the February 14 blast on the National Highway 1 A, which claimed lives of 40 CRPF personnel.
The encounter comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Indian armed forces have been given ‘free hand’ to decimate the terrorists in the aftermath of Pulwama blast. India has been saying the non-state actors in Pakistan such as Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar are sending sponsoring terror activities targeting India, especially Jammu and Kashmir.
Amid tension between India and Pakistan after Pulwama attack, latest reports suggest that Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar planned the Pulwama attack and gave instructions from Rawalpindi hospital bed. The report by Times of India states that Azhar kept the plan hidden from United Jihad Council and secretly deputed his nephews to carry out the attack. In an audio tape, Azhar exhorted the Jaish men to avenge the killing of his nephew Usman, who was gunned down by Indian security forces in 2017. Previous reports had pointed out that Azhar had sent an Afghan war veteran – Abdul Ghazi – to Jammu and Kashmir to avenge the killings.
Pakistan has been maintaining that it has nothing to do with Pulwama attack. Hours after the blast, Islamabad issued a midnight statement condemning the attack. However, Islamabad rejected that it was in any way involved in the attack. "We strongly reject any insinuation by elements in the Indian government and media circles that seek to link the attack to the State of Pakistan without investigations," the Foreign Office added.