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Poonch Civilian Deaths: Army Shifts Brigadier, 3 Other Senior Officers; Police Lodges FIR

 Poonch Civilian Deaths: Army Shifts Brigadier, 3 Other Senior Officers; Police Lodges FIR.

Jammu: To assuage hurt feelings of the civilians following death of three persons, the Army Sunday, reportedly shifted a Brigadier level and three other officers whose unit is looking after operations in Surankote and is mulling disciplinary action after thorough internal investigations while police have lodged a First Information Report (FIR) in the matter.

Officials confirmed that Brigadier Padam Acharya, Brigade Commander of the Rashtriya Rifles, has been removed from the unit along with three other senior Army officers following the death of three civilians and injuries to about 10 others.

However, no official information was shared by the Army.

Officials, however, clarified that the condition of all other 10 injured civilians—five of whom were admitted in Surankote and Poonch hospitals—is stable. The doctors are attending to the injured civilians regularly and they are responding to the treatment, they said.

Police have lodged an FIR into the civilian deaths at the local police station for further investigations.

Officials said a particular community which had always been in forefront in anti-militancy operations by fully cooperating with Army, paramilitary forces and police, is feeling badly hurt following the death of three civilians and injuries to 10 others. The community always took the lead in helping security forces even when militancy was at its peak, they pointed out.

The Army has also ordered a thorough internal investigation into the deaths of three civilians following allegations that they died in its custody.The three civilians along with others were allegedly picked up by the Army for questioning in the wake of the killing of four Army jawans in an ambush by unidentified terrorists in Poonch on December 21 and they were found dead under mysterious circumstances in the same evening.

A thorough investigation has been ordered into it (the deaths of the civilians) as part of the Standard Operating Procedure, the sources said.

The Jammu and Kashmir police are also probing the deaths.

The Army on Saturday said it stands committed to extending “full support and cooperation” in the conduct of investigation. The civil administration has already announced compensation and compassionate appointment for next of kin of the deceased.

Meanwhile, Army chief Gen Manoj Pande is visiting Jammu today to assess the security situation in the aftermath of the Dera Ki Gali encounter in Poonch district.

Gen Pande will visit the site of Thursday’s terror attack at Dera Ki Gali where Army personnel including para commandos, paramilitary forces and police continued massive search and cordon operations to track down three to four terrorists involved in the attack.

The Army Headquarters is regularly monitoring the situation in twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch where nearly 30 terrorists are stated to be hiding in the hills, natural caves and forests.

As per the sources, the Army chief is expected to review the situation at Nagrota Corps Headquarters with top Army Commanders for intensifying operations to eliminate the terrorists. Nagrota Corps Commander Lt Gen Sandeep Jain is handing over the charge of the Corps to Lt Gen Naveen Sachdev shortly.

The Army is likely to give charge to officers who have dealt with situations in areas where multiple attacks have been carried out by the terrorists on the troops. This was the fourth major attack/encounter in Rajouri and Poonch districts this year in which 19 soldiers have sacrificed their lives though a large number of terrorists have also been killed, both on the Line of Control (LoC) as well as the hinterland.

Sources said a team of Defence Ministry is also likely to visit Rajouri and Poonch districts in the next few days to take assessment of the ground situation and steps being taken to address the recent increase in terror activities.

Sources said massive search and cordon operations continued in upper reaches, forests and other vulnerable areas of Rajouri and Poonch districts to track down the hiding militants. The army, its para commandos, paramilitary forces and police are involved in the search operations. Local people are also assisting the troops.

Meanwhile, a wreath laying ceremony was held today in Rajouri for the four soldiers who lost their lives after being ambushed by terrorists in the Dera Ki Gali area of Surankote in Poonch district.

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi led the wreath-laying ceremony of Naik Birendder Singh, Naik Karan Kumar, Rifleman Gautam Kumar and Rifleman Chandan Kumar at a military camp where their mortal remains were shifted. Two of the martyrs belonged to Uttarakhand and one each to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

General Officer Commanding of Jammu-based White Knight Corps Lt Gen Sandeep Jain, Deputy Commissioner Rajouri Vikas Kundal, Senior Superintendent of Police, Rajouri Amritpal Singh and other officers and ranks of the Army also paid floral tribute.

Lt Gen Dwivedi interacted with the next of kin of the slain soldiers at the wreath-laying ceremony. Later, their mortal remains were dispatched to their hometowns in Uttarakhand, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. (via. Daily excelsior)

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