Four Army officers, including a Brigadier who oversees operations in Surankote, Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir, have been removed from their positions and relocated amid growing outrage over the deaths of three civilians, according to sources.
To restore some confidence among the local populace, the Army has ordered a court of inquiry into the incident in addition to moving the officers, who include a Colonel and a Lieutenant Colonel in addition to the Brigadier.
They stated that the Army’s internal investigation will be handled by a different unit situated in Akhnoor, which is a part of the XVI Corps, and that it should be finished in about a week. To ensure impartiality, the investigation will involve other agencies such as the police in Jammu and Kashmir. Until the investigation is concluded, the officers will remain a part of the formation.
Locals claim the men were killed while in Army custody, despite the fact that the army and J&K administration have not stated who is to blame for the deaths of the three. The deaths occurred after a violent gunfight with terrorists that claimed the lives of four soldiers.
A section 302 of the IPC cognizable offence has been made out, according to the J&K police FIR, and the case is registered. Nonetheless, it states that the accused’s specifics are “unknown.”
The village sarpanch and the families of two of the killed civilians have claimed that they were among the 13 residents who were brutally beaten and tortured by unidentified soldiers in a rumored video.
Ten civilians have been admitted to hospitals in Poonch and Surankot after they were hurt while being detained by the Army. The victims are from the tribal communities of Bakerwal and Gujjar, who have long led J&K’s counter-militancy efforts.
Even during the height of militancy, the community always took the initiative to support security forces. The Army has stated that it is “committed to extending full support and cooperation in the conduct of investigations” and that the situation is being looked into.
In the wake of the civilian deaths in the region and the accusations of torture committed against the deceased by their families, sources also claim that the Army is reevaluating the postings of some officers. But the Army did not release any official information.
Army Chief General Manoj Pande reviewed the situation on the ground in the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch as the anti-terror operations in the forest belt of Dera Ki Gali and Bafliaz areas of Poonch and Rajouri continued for a sixth day.