NEW DELHI, Dec 25: Three officers, including the Brigadier in-charge in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, have been sidestepped and attached with the local unit pending inquiry into the deaths of three civilians allegedly in the army custody in the district on December 22.
The J&K Police have already registered a murder case against unidentified persons over the deaths. A 29-second video that went viral on social media showed persons, believed to be Army personnel, stripping three men and sprinkling chilli powder on them. The J&K Police registered a First Information Report on Sunday at Surankote police station after the three were found dead with multiple injuries.
The three officers have been “attached as per procedure” while an Army inquiry is under way into the incident, two sources independently confirmed. All three were attached to the Nagrota-based 16 Corps, another source stated.
The officers include the Brigade Commander, as well as the Commanding Officer and the Second-in-Command of the unit concerned, it has been learnt. “Attachment” effectively means being sidestepped from the appointment to ensure an impartial probe.
Meanwhile, a search operation to nab those responsible for firing on the army vehicles in which four soldiers were killed is still on. Eight men from the tribal Gujjar Bakkarwal community were detained by the Army following an attack on two vehicles carrying troops around 3:45 p.m. on December 21 in Poonch-Rajouri area. The four deceased soldiers have been identified as Naik Birendra Singh, Naik Karan Kumar, Riflemen Chandan Kumar and Gautam Kumar. The troops were heading to an operational area at Thanamandi in Rajouri where an encounter was on since the night of December 20.
Amid the prevailing tension, Army Chief General Manoj Pande visited Poonch sector on Monday, and was given an update on the prevalent security situation. On Chief’s visit, the Army said on social media platform X, “Chief of Army Staff interacted with commanders on ground, exhorted them to conduct operations in the most professional manner and remain resolute and steadfast against all challenges.”