The captain of the Indian cricket team, Virat Kohli took to Twitter to pay his respects to the four Indian Army personnel and a J&K Sub-Inspector who lost their lives in an encounter with terrorists in the Handwara town of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Those who don’t forget their duty in any circumstances are true heroes. Their sacrifices must not be forgotten. I bow my head to the army personnel & the policemen who lost their lives at Handwara and sincerely send my condolences to their families and wish them peace. Jai Hind,” Kohli’s tweet read.

However, the Indian cricketer’s fans who hail from different parts of the world, including Pakistan, decided to turn his tribute into a battleground where they would attack each other with words.

One of the most shocking replies had Twitter user @1947Umair saying that “Kashmir will become the graveyard of ur [Indian] Army”.

“Only thing that can save u is that u exit from Occupied Kashmir and give them right of self determination. Kashmir Banay ga Pakistan,” he wrote.

The 18-hour long anti-militancy operation led to the death of Major Sood, Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Naik Rajesh, Lance Naik Dinesh and J&K Sub-inspector Shakeel Qazi.

“In a firefight in Changimul, Handwara of Kupwara district, two terrorists were eliminated and the team of five security forces personnel, comprising two Army officers, two soldiers and one police sub-inspector, also died,” a Srinagar-based Army spokesman said.

According to a report by The Hindu, the militants who were hiding in a cowshed in the region were presumed dead after an exchange of firing stopped for more than an hour on Saturday evening.

When the force entered the cowshed to “rescue the civilians,” they lost communication with the outside team and went in front of the militants who had sneaked inside from the back end.

The martyrs were later identified as Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood and Naik Rajesh and Dinesh, alongside sub-Inspector Mohammad Sagier Qazi of J&K Police’s Special Operation Group (SOG).

It is unfortunate to see how at the time of such distress, people from both sides of the border tend to choose hate and aggression over empathy.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives in action.

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