ANANTNAG: Col Manpreet Singh and Maj Ashish Dhonchak of 19 Rashtriya Rifles, and DSP Humayun Bhat of J&K Police lost their lives during a fierce gunfight with terrorists in the forests surrounding Gadool village of Kokernag in Anantnag district on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday. The terrorists are suspected to be from The Resistance Front (TRF), a shadow group of the Pakistan-backed Lashkar-e-Taiba.
An Army soldier and five policemen were wounded in the shootout, which is still ongoing. On August 10, two civilians and a soldier had suffered shrapnel wounds from a grenade explosion during an operation to flush out terrorists hiding in the woods in the same village.


Anantnag encounter: Bodies of Col Manpreet, Major Ashish airlifted to army base hospital in Srinagar

Altogether 119 Army, CAPF and J&K Police personnel have been killed in terrorism-related attacks in the Kashmir zone, and 24 in the Jammu region, from August 5, 2019 to August 1 this year.
Preliminary reports indicate that two to three terrorists were spotted and encircled in Gadool following a tip-off. The operation was conducted by a combined force of the Army and police, led by Col Singh, a decorated officer who had earlier received the Sena Medal.
The forces came under fire from behind the trees. In the initial exchange of fire, the three officers were gravely wounded. They died at the military hospital in Batwara, Srinagar, where they were flown for treatment. The other wounded men were airlifted to the Army’s 92-Base Hospital in Srinagar.
Later, a blog called “Kashmir Fight”, allegedly operated from Rawalpindi in Pakistan, claimed that “Resistance Fighters carried out a surprise counterattack on SOG and the Indian Army in Kokernag Gadool in Anantnag area”.
Col Singh had dedicated approximately 17 years of his life to the Army. He was on the verge of completing his tenure with Rashtriya Rifles in just four months. Following this, Singh was expected to be posted at a peaceful station. Singh belonged to 12th Sikh Light Infantry, while Maj Dhonchak’s original unit was 15th Sikh LI.
Originally from Bharonjian near Mullanpur in New Chandigarh, the colonel’s family resided in DLF, New Chandigarh. He is survived by his wife Jagmeet Grewal, a lecturer in economics in Haryana, and their two children — a six-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. His father was a Naik in the Army.
Maj Dhonchak, a Sena Medal recipient in 2023, hailed from Panipat district in Haryana, but further details about him were not available at the time this report was filed.
DSP Bhat of J&K Police’s special operation group is survived by his wife and three-month-old son, having gotten married only last year. The DSP was the son of former DIG Ghulam Hasan Bhat and originally hailed from Tral in Pulwama district. The family now lives at VIP colony near Srinagar airport in Humhama.
Watch Anantnag encounter: In the hometown of heroes, Poignant moments of grief in families

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