Nine-year-old Jammu hostage recalls terror

August 28th, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Aug 28 (IANS) In the glare of camera lights, nine-year-old Sheetal - the oldest of the four children who were among the seven hostages rescued after a gun battle on the outskirts of this winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir - Thursday described the terror of being held captive by militants in her own house.”It was scary. We were locked inside a room and the men said they will kill us,” Sheetal said into the microphones that were thrust towards her. “I don’t want to remember anything, but it was so scary I don’t think it will go from my mind.”

Her two-year-old brother Vipin’s fear-filled eyes darted around in search of his mother. But Sarita was nowhere in sight since she had suffered bullet injuries and had been taken to the military hospital for treatment.

Sarita’s husband Billu Ram, who had been taken to hospital Monday to be treated for a snake bite, had returned Wednesday morning to find that terrorists were holding his family hostage in their house in Chinore, about 20 km from the centre of Jammu.

He had waited anxiously outside the building as his family members were rescued following the gun battle that went on from early Wednesday morning till late in the night. However, a neighbour, his son, and a teacher present in the building were killed by the three terrorists.

Grenade explosions and gun shots were heard in the area as the single-storey building was perforated with bullet marks. By late Wednesday, the army personnel managed to kill all three militants.

“We are happy that we could save some of the hostages but also unhappy that three of them were killed,” Brig V.P. Singh, who led the operation against the terrorists, told reporters.

“The first to be brought out was Sarita, the wife of Billu Ram. She was injured. After that, his four children were rescued,” a police officer told IANS.

The youngest of the children was Vipin Kumar, while the other three were Kajal, 4, Ishant, 6 and Sheetal.

“Later, Billu Ram’s brother Tarsem and his wife Ritu were rescued. Some of the hostages are still in shock,” the officer added.

The police said three terrorists had crossed into Jammu and Kashmir from the Kanachak sector of the border with Pakistan Tuesday morning. They were intercepted at the police check post of Chinore, about 20 km north from the centre of Jammu, Wednesday morning.

The three militants, dressed in police uniforms and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, shot dead a junior commissioned officer (JCO) and then hijacked a three-wheeler. They then fired indiscriminately, killing Shabeet Hussain, a milkman, and motorcyclist Naseeb Singh before killing the three-wheeler driver, Vijay Kumar, police said.

After that, they barged into Billu Ram’s house.

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