The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Right skills, wrong cause

Ayodhya, June 6: Himanshu Yadav lay in one corner of the Sri Ram hospital, his chest bandaged and a faint smile on his lips.

The 24-year-old inspector with the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) was brought to the hospital with a broken chest bone. But he has recovered fast after doctors operated on him.

Yadav is one of the jawans who yesterday braved the human bombs as they tried to blow up the makeshift Ram temple.

“I believe at one point we were panicking. They were so close to the sanctum sanctorum. But our combined firing stopped them,” he said.

The young man is one of the four jawans who suffered bullet injuries. Two others, from the Central Reserve Police Force, were today airlifted to Delhi for treatment. A CRPF lady sub-inspector, whose injury is minor, is under treatment in Lucknow.

Two civilians, who were also injured in the attack, have been admitted to the King George hospital in Lucknow. One of them, a woman, is in the intensive care unit.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav visited the injured at the hospital. He announced a financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh to each of the injured.

According to those among the 66 PAC jawans who were on duty yesterday on the outer-security ring, the terrorists had entered from three directions.

“The militants began to explode smoke grenades to create a smokescreen so that they could enter the main temple area’s walls,” said platoon commander Naresh Singh Yadav.

Naresh Singh said the PAC jawans noticed that two of the attackers had explosives strapped to their bodies.

“We were 66 in all spread over in the entire area and we came and formed a barricade of our own. We got into the generator room and some of us got on to the rooftop of a neighbouring residential area and began firing,” the commander said.

“It was easy for us to keep firing from the top while the militants who were already inside and crawling to avoid the bullets faced difficulty in firing back though they were armed with AK-47 rifles,” he added.

The commander said after half an hour of firing, they found two of the militants were injured. “Yet, they were crawling, hurling grenades, but could not hurl it high enough to target the temple.”

Naresh Singh said he saw from the rooftop that one militant in a black vest was directing the others to advance. “Kill these PAC, CRPF dogs,” the militant was shouting.

By then, the CRPF jawans who were based in the main temple area had joined the firing.

“It was amazing that despite being shot, the militants were crawling, using the tall grass in the complex as cover to reach near the wall of the temple. It then struck us that once the human bombs reached the wall they would cause enormous damage,” Yadav recalled.

“Then we targeted the human bombs and began firing. This helped. Two militants died after being shot,” he added.

Naresh Singh’s platoon and the CRPF may have fired over 400 rounds during the two-hour gunbattle. Sri Krishna Chandra Singh, another PAC commander, said: “The last militant to die was the one who was asking his comrades to kill us.”

The militants, he said, had all come to die but after succeeding in their mission. But that did not happen. “It was amazing to see the skill they had acquired for the wrong cause,” he added.

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