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Poonch Civilian deaths: Govt says Legal action begins; orders probe, announces jobs, compensation to families of deceased

 Poonch Civilian deaths: Govt says Legal action begins; orders probe, announces jobs, compensation to families of deceased 



Army extends cooperation in conduct of investigations; Internet services were suspended in the district and neighbouring Rajouri after protests against the deaths


Yogesh


Jammu, Dec 23 (KNO): Jammu and Kashmir government Saturday said that the “legal action” has been initiated by the appropriate authority into the death of three civilians of Poonch. The government also announced jobs and compensation for the family members of three deceased civilians.


As per news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), three locals identified as Safeer Hussain (43), Muhammad Showket (27) and Shabir Ahmad (32). Witnesses said that all three deceased were the residents of Topa Pir village in Poonch’s Bufliaz region and allegedly part of a group of eight civilians picked up for questioning about the Poonch attack in which four soldiers were killed and two others injured on Friday.


“The deceased were picked by security forces and being questioned after unknown terrorists attacked two Army vehicles, which were travelling from Bufliaz in Poonch district to Thanamandi in Rajouri where a Rashtriya Rifles unit is stationed, was attacked on Thursday evening resulted in death of our four soldiers,” a local alleged, wishing not to be named.


Witnesses told KNO that protests broke out in the region and authorities suspended mobile internet services in Poonch and Rajouri districts as a "precautionary measure" to avoid the spread of rumors and misinformation.


The Jammu and Kashmir government acknowledged the deaths in a post on X and announced legal vis-à-vis compensation to the families of the deceased. However, the government didn't clarify how three civilians died.


The Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) of the Union Territory said that “Legal action in this matter has been initiated by the appropriate authority” and that the government has announced a compensation package for the deceased.


“The death of three civilians was reported yesterday in Bafliaz of Poonch District. The medico legal formalities were conducted and legal action in this matter has been initiated by the appropriate authority. Government has announced compensation for each of the deceased. Further Government has also announced compassionate appointments to the next of kin of each deceased,” DIPR said in an X post at 3.44 pm.


Following this Army’s Additional Directorate General of Public Information (ADGPI) also reacted to the civilian deaths and termed it as ‘Terrorist Initiated Incident’. The Army also committed to extending full support and cooperation “in the conduct of investigations.”


“Terrorist Initiated Incident at Bafliaz in Poonch-Rajouri Sector (21/ 22 Dec 23). Search operations by the security forces are continuing in the area of operations after the incident of 21 Dec 23. Reports have been received regarding three civilian deaths in the area. The matter is under investigation. Indian Army stands committed to extending full support and cooperation in the conduct of investigations,” ADGPI in an X post said at around 6.44 pm.


Sources said earlier, senior civil, police and Army officers, including the Poonch Deputy Commissioner and Senior Superintendent of Police, were in Bufliaz till late Friday night to look into the matter. As per reports, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu also visited the spot and talked to local administration and representatives.


Meanwhile, reports said that fresh firing was reported in dense forest near Peer Ki Gali at Dera Ki Gali where operation is still on. More Special Forces and RR unit is in action while hunt for terrorists intensified in the area which also has Mughal Road, and is heavily covered with dense forest, lots of natural caves and hideouts.


CRPF Advisory


Meanwhile, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) issued an advisory for all personnel after the Poonch attack. It urged its troops against "blind trust" in any tipoff and emphasized the need to follow the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) while moving through and conducting operations in Rajouri and Poonch. Apart from this, troops and other officials have also been mandated by the authorities to refrain from isolated movements and use bulletproof vehicles to ensure safety.


Four Army personnel were killed on December 21 after terrorists attacked two of their vehicles near Topa Pir in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district. Following this massive search operation was underway in the dense forests to track down the terrorists.


General Officer Commanding of Jammu-based White Knight Corps Lieutenant General Sandeep Jain and Director General of Police R R Swain also inspected the scene of the ambush and reviewed the security situation yesterday. A team from the National Investigation Agency, headed by a deputy inspector general-rank officer, also visited the ambush site.


It may be recalled that 21 soldiers lost their lives in four terror attacks in the last 26 months in Poonch. December 21 is the fourth major terrorist attack in Poonch.


TIMELINE OF PAST ATTACKS


October 11, 2021: Terrorists ambushed a team of the Army conducting a search operation in the Chamraid area of Poonch. Five soldiers including one JCO sacrificed their lives in the attack.


October 20, 2021: Six soldiers lost their lives in a terror attack during a search operation in Bhata Duriyan. The search operation was carried out by closing the Jammu-Poonch highway for one and a half months.


April 20, 2023: Terrorists first threw grenades and then started firing on an Army vehicle in Bhataduriyanin Poonch district. Five soldiers sacrificed their lives.


December 21, 2023: Five soldiers lost their lives and two others were injured in a terror attack in Dhera-Ki-Gali—(KNO)

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