SOPs Not Adhered To On LoC Leading To 5 Killings

SOPs Not Adhered To On LoC Leading To 5 Killings

23 August 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Under the garb of heavy firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in entire Poonch sector for past over a fortnight, the Pakistani troops were reportedly facilitating recee by the members of their Border Action Team (BAT) and infiltrators to facilitate their movement on the borders in the upcoming days. Thirty-five ceasefire violations have been reported from Pakistan Army in the last 15 days in Mendhar, Balakote, Hamirpur and Poonch sectors. Official sources told the Excelsior that Army used Anti-Material Rifles (AMRs) and Automatic Grenade Launchers (AGLs) to destroy Pakistani posts opposite Mendhar, Balakote, Hamirpur and Poonch, which had continuously been raining bullets and mortar shells on Indian posts and civilian areas for past fortnight. “The AMRs and AGLs had lethal affect on the Pakistani bunkers and posts destroying them and bringing to halt (at least for the present) the heavy firing of Pakistani troops in which seven civilians and three Army jawans have been injured,” sources said, adding the Pakistani posts, which were destroyed in retaliatory action, had been targeting the civilian areas, leading to panic among the people. Meanwhile, an internal investigation by the Army has revealed that disregard for Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) while patrolling along the LoC was one of the main reasons for the killing of five Indian soldiers on the LoC by Pakistani special forces in Sarla battalion area of Poonch on August 6, a report from New Delhi said. It said the investigation being carried out by the local formation there has found that the soldiers were taking rest when they were ambushed by the Pakistani BAT, which had to fire not more than a dozen bullets at close ranges to accomplish their task, sources said. The Army headquarters in New Delhi, however, said investigations are still in progress and it would share the details of the incident only once it has established the exact sequence of events and the lapses. The five soldiers, from 21 Bihar Regiment and 14 Maratha Light Infantry unit, were killed when they were patrolling the area in wee hours on August 6. One soldier of the six-member patrol had gone to relieve himself and was not injured in the ambush. However, he was admitted to hospital for being in a state of shock. Army sources said no formal court of inquiry has been ordered by the force into the incident, which took place in the 93 Brigade area in Poonch. Army chief Gen Bikram Singh had reportedly reprimanded the formation commanders in the area for allowing two successful and sensational operations by Pakistan Army troops inside Indian territory in a span of eight months. Sources it has also been observed that during heavy firing by the Pakistan Army in all the sectors, suspicious movement was spotted in the forward areas through surveillance devices. On a number of occasions, the troops found the suspects coming up to a particular route and then returning to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Later, troops discovered that the suspects were members of the BAT and infiltrators, who were trying to conduct recee of the area for future infiltration attempts into the Indian territory. Army had fired at these intruders but they had managed to escape back taking cover of darkness and firing from across the LoC. On one of the occasion on the intervening night of August 14 and 15, the BAT members comprising Pakistan Army personnel and militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) outfits had reached very close to a forward BSF post to target it. However, the BSF had foiled the attack. Security agencies had received confirmed inputs that Pakistan Army had moved nearly 150 militants very close to the LoC during heightened skirmishes on the LoC in Poonch sector with a view to facilitate their recee on the LoC for their infiltration in future. “By helping infiltrators and the BAT members, Pakistan was eyeing 2014 elections in Jammu and Kashmir. They wanted to push the militants in Jammu and Kashmir and they found present months as opportune time. In the next couple of months, the passes would start closing due to snowfall,” sources said adding: “in view of this, Pakistan Army had moved 150 militants very close to the LoC”. The BAT members, who included Pakistan Army’s Special Service Group (SSG) personnel and militants of LeT and JeM outfits, were also found trying to conduct recee at different places on the LoC. However, the BAT members were forced to flee back to PoK as troops had spotted their movement well in time. The BAT had managed to conduct two successful attacks at Mankot on January 8 and Sarla battalion area in Poonch on August 5-6 night. In the first attack, two Army jawans were killed and head of one of them was taken to Pakistan while in the second attack, five Army jawans were killed and another was injured. Sources said the retirement of Pakistan Army chief Gen Aslam Kayani in November this year and pullout of NATO forces from Afghanistan in 2014 were other factors behind heavy firing by the Pakistan Army during past fortnight. While Gen Kayani was reportedly pushing his case for extension due to LoC disturbances, Pakistan Army was also shifting troops on its eastern borders from the western due to NATO pullout. Sources said the latest ceasefire violation by the Pakistan Army at Balnoi sub sector in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district last night was 35th such violation during past fortnight. Heavy firing by Pakistan Army in Balnoi battalion in Mendhar sector continued throughout the last night and stopped at 4.30 am. Since then, there had been no firing in any part of Poonch sector so far, they added. Meanwhile, 12 years old Farzana Kousar and a woman Noor Jan, residents of Qasba and Kerni respectively in Poonch, who were injured in Pakistan Army’s firing and shelling yesterday, were shifted to Government Medical College hospital at 3 am today. Noor Jan’s husband Mohammad Din told the Excelsior that he was forced to bring Rs 1200 worth medicines besides bandages and other material from private shops by the doctors. “Till 8 am today, there were no doctors available to attend the injured,” he regretted and demanded action against the doctors, who were treating the firing victims with negligence and asking them to purchase medicines from the market.