ANANTNAG: Killing of Pakistan-backed terrorists by the security forces during fierce encounters in the high-risk areas of Jammu and Kashmir is a routine affair in the state. However, not many are aware that the security personnel involved in such operations take desperate measures in convincing the terrorists – often misguided jobless youths - to shun the path of violence and surrender so that they can stay alive and later reunite with their families.
One such incident has now come to fore where the parents of a Hizbul terrorist and the cops involved in an encounter in south Kashmir's Anantnag district desperately tried for six hours to convince him to surrender before he was finally eliminated.
According to reports, Rauf Khanday and another terrorist, believed to be linked to Hizbul Mujahideen, were holed up in a house in the Dialgam village in south Kashmir's Anantnag district recently.
Around 11 pm on Saturday, the Anantnag division of J&K Police received a tip-off about the presence of two terrorists inside a house in Dialgam. After ascertaining the identity of the terrorists, the house was cordoned off by security personnel and they were asked to surrender.
The security personnel involved in the operation and the 'worried' parents of Rauf Khanday – one of the two terrorists holed up in the house - tried to talk to them into surrendering.
The officials present at the spot waited for nearly six hours in convincing the two terrorists and but one of them showed no signs of surrendering.
One of the two terrorists, whose identity has not been disclosed, did so immediately leaving young Rauf Khanday inside, cut off from the rest of the world.
Narrating Rauf Khanday's last hours, officials recounted that a phone was also passed on to him so that a conversation could begin. Then followed the hours of trying to talk to him, reason with him and even bringing in his parents so they could convince him to surrender.
"It is always a tough call. I was pretty sure that the parents will be able to convince Khanday and he will come out and surrender. But destiny willed it otherwise," Senior Superintendent of Police Anantnag Altaf Ahmed Khan told PTI.
"I tried everything that is possible to make him surrender. But every effort of mine was stonewalled by the young boy, who had been brainwashed," the SSP said.
Asked what had transpired, Khan, who has earlier headed districts like Shopian and Sopore, said he spoke to Khanday to understand his mental frame of mind and found he had interpreted various religious books wrongly.
The Anantnag SSP even narrated the verses from Holy Quran and advised him that whatever he was doing was against the teachings of Islam. The conversation continued for over 30 minutes during which Khanday got agitated and abusive. But, the SSP did not lose his cool and ignored all that because he wanted to save him from getting killed.
Listening to the entire conversation were the commanders outside, their eyes fixed on the house where Khanday was hiding, an official told PTI.
Around 1 am on Sunday, Khanday said that he wanted to speak to his mother for which permission was granted.
"I sent a police team to his native place seven kilometres away. Security personnel escorted his father Bashid Ahmed Khandey and mother to the site so that they could persuade him to come out and surrender," said Khan.
"We were so desperate to save his life that we all agreed to his mother's request to take him home if he surrenders," he added. Both parents went inside to speak to their son, raising hopes that there might not be any bloodshed. They came out after half-an-hour, despair writ large on their face.
"I missed a heartbeat. A chill ran down my spine as we had to perform our final job now and fight him out," Khan said. A commander present at the encounter site apologised to the parents, who knew the fate awaiting their son.
"I sent the parents to my place as they were quite nervous, especially the mother... I refused to give up," said Khan.
It was past 3 am now and Khan made yet another bid to engage with Khanday. He asked a small team to see if there could be a backdoor entry into the house so security personnel could overpower him. Khan said Khanday fired at him when told that he was entering the house unarmed and would only engage in talks with him. "I tried my best but all efforts failed," Khan said in a choked voice.
Following this, security personnel began the final onslaught, killing Khanday.
Rauf Khanday, who was killed in the pre-dawn darkness of Sunday at Dialgam village in south Kashmir's Anantnag district, had just passed his first year of graduation.
Director General of Police SP Vaid later made a special mention about Khan's efforts to save Khanday during a press conference on the three counter-insurgency operations in the Kashmir Valley that left 13 terrorists, three Army jawans and four civilians dead.
(With PTI inputs)