Five Indian commandos were killed during a skirmish with terrorists who have infiltrated India’s part of Kashmir.

According to the Indian Army, the hand-to-hand battle took place in the Keran sector in North Kashmir on April 1. Five terrorists have managed to navigate the border fence (the Line of Control, as it’s known) that divides the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir. The Indian military tracked them via remotely piloted aircraft and deployed a team from the 4th Special Forces Parachute Battalion.

According to reports, the Indian commandos were following the spoor of the terrorists when they came upon an ice cornice. The cornice, however, gave way once the commandos were on top, and three of them fell some distance down to a valley. Fortuitously, the terrorists were also located in the same spot. In the ensuing hand-to-hand engagement, the five terrorists and three Indian commandos were killed; two more Indian commandos succumbed to their wounds later. Although they accomplished their mission, the Indian special operators suffered a heavy loss. Assessing, selecting, and training a commando takes years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. And so, a one-for-one exchange isn’t ideal.

The commandos killed in action were identified as Subedar (Senior NCO) Sanjeev Kumar, Havildar (Sergeant) Davendra Singh, Paratrooper Bal Krishan, Paratrooper Amit Kumar, and Paratrooper Chhatrapal Singh.

India and Pakistan have been at its other throats since they gained independence from Great Britain back in 1947. Before the British surrendered the jewel of their empire, India and Pakistan (and Bangladesh) were one country. One country, two different major religions, though – Hindu and Muslim. And when religion comes into geopolitics, things usually turn bloody. The Partition of India, as the event is better known, was poorly executed. Between 10 and 12 million people were displaced as Hindus and Muslims sought to flee to the country in which their religion would be dominant. Millions were also killed as the ethnic and religious hatred that the British had managed to rein in exploded. The events of the Partition left open wounds that can still be seen in the relations between the two countries.

Jammu and Kashmir has been a disputed area since 1947. At the time, the ruler of the Jammu and Kashmir state had been indecisive and hesitant to declare his allegiance. As a result, some districts rebelled and unilaterally joined Pakistan. India, then, offered to help with military forces in exchange for the rest of the region to join India. The ruler agreed, and the Indian military intervened to fight back the Pakistani-supported rebels, but not before two districts succeeded and joined Pakistan. Ever since Jammu and Kashmir have been fiercely contested by both sides.

There have been four full-scale conflicts between the two countries since the Partition, the most recent being in 1999, and several minor skirmishes and standoffs.

Both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons.

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