During any terrorist attack in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, people run away from the site of action, but it is either the men in uniform or the men holding camera and microphones who rush towards the spot where the action is taking place.
Wednesday was no different when word came in that three terrorists hiding in a truck were spotted by the security forces in the Jhajjar Kotli area along the Jammu Srinagar National Highway and that after firing at a police party the three terrorists had managed to escape in a nearby jungle.
A massive cordon and search operation was launched by various security agencies, the Highway was blocked and people stopped from going towards the site of action, but at this moment, we were heading towards the site where the action was actually happening.
Within 45 minutes we reached the spot and joined the army, police and CRPF in their search operation.
Finding the three terrorists about whom the information was very sketchy and the source was either the eyewitnesses or the truck driver and conductor was an uphill task, more difficult than finding a needed in the hay stack. The Jungle in which these terrorists had rushed towards was huge with thick foliage, restricting the vision to one or two feet.
We joined the search party and as we followed the team, an AK 47 Magazine loaded with live ammunition was recovered, thus confirming that the inputs that the terrorists were hiding somewhere near.
The operation lasted till the evening and was halted during the night, but it was to resume with the first light, we headed home with the plans to leave early morning the next day.
Next day with the break of the first light we were at the site and again we joined the forces in their search operation.
We came to know that the terrorists during the night had taken a family hostage for an hour and later left them unharmed, but had taken away some food material and clothes from them.
After reporting about the hostage, we again followed the forces and it was in the afternoon when some gun-shots were heard, the contact had been established and the terrorists located, what followed was a massive gun fight and a life-changing experience for all of us present at the site of encounter.
Covering an encounter had been a routine since I started my career as a journalist 16 years ago, in the past too I had several close shaves with death, but today things were different.
The entire media was busy trying to get the best shots, trying to get the sound byte of officers, and exclusive information about the encounter.
Amidst heavy firing, bomb blasts- news came, that one terrorist had been gunned down, followed by the news that second one was down.
Being in the line of fire, my video journalist Gourav and I had to wear our Bulletproof jackets and as it was hot and humid, we were sweating like we were standing under a shower, this experience made me realise the conditions of our jawans wearing a similar jacket and carrying a bag pack of ammunition and other items besides their guns.
As the news came that the second terrorist was also gunned down and the third one who was injured had rushed towards the jungle, we all rushed towards the house where the terrorist was hiding.
Every journalist started doing walkthroughs from the house, it was then the army realised that there could have been some unexploded bombs lying in the area that they started telling the journalists to move out of the area.
As I had finished my Walkthrough I came out with Gourav, as we were heading out, the third terrorist who was hiding meters away from us suddenly appeared and started firing from his AK 47 rifle.
Bullets starting flying near our ears and we all fell on ground fearing that any moment would be our last. I took out my phone and sent a message to my mom and my wife that I love them. Death was imminent.
But between our death and the terrorists, our forces stood like a wall, it really takes something extra to don the uniform and it really takes more than something extra to wear the maroon Beret.
These eyes are witness to the fact that how the men wearing maroon Beret took the bullets on themselves but ensured that every civilian was safe.
The third terrorist was gunned down by our forces and we were taken out safe and sound.
We were happy to have survived after having a close shave with death, but we all will be indebted to the men wearing olive, Khakhi from Army, JKP, CRPF that we once again survived.
All the three terrorists affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammed were Pakistani nationals and were eliminated, before they could succeed in their nefarious designs to target our security forces and kill innocent civilians.
We all reached home happy and relaxed with the assurances that we are safe as long as these men in uniform who have this something extra with them are guarding us and protecting us.