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Red light draws shooters to officer

Jammu, Nov. 30: One of the senior-most officials in Jammu and Kashmir was wounded today when militants in police uniform opened fire at the sight of a red light flashing atop a car and hit the bureaucrat.

K.B. Pillai, an IAS officer with the rank of cabinet secretary, was shot in his left arm on the outskirts of Jammu while he was returning home after visiting his son in a hospital this morning.

This is the first time that a bureaucrat ranked as high as Pillai has been injured in a militant attack.

A manhunt launched by security forces soon after in a nearby forest triggered an encounter that continued late into the evening. A policeman and a militant were killed.

Police had launched the operation but the army joined in later. Inspector-general of police P.L. Gupta said the gunbattle was being suspended for the night as it was difficult to fight in the dark.

Pillai, a Jammu and Kashmir cadre officer in his fifties and hailing from Kerala, is the director-general of the Institute of Management and Public Administration in Jammu.

His personal security officer and driver were also injured. But driver Praveen, despite injuries on his forehead and arms, drove the car to a hospital, covering a distance of more than 5 km. Doctors operated upon the three. Later, they were declared out of danger and Pillai was discharged.

The two militants first hijacked an autorickshaw and directed driver Joginder Singh to take them to the railway station. When one of them pulled out a gun, Singh took them to a bypass, away from the railway station.

Singh said the militants left the autorickshaw on the highway and let him drive away. It was around this time that they spotted the official car of Pillai cruising on the bypass and opened fire.

Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and revenue minister Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen called on Pillai at his home.

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