By Manjeet Sehgal: Four Indian Army jawans were killed in an early-morning firing incident that took place inside the Bathinda Military Station in Punjab on Wednesday. The Punjab Police registered an FIR against two unidentified men, who were reportedly wearing white kurta pyjamas, and carrying a rifle and an axe during the time of firing.
The four Army jawans were shot dead while they were sleeping near the barracks behind the officers’ mess at Bathinda military station early Wednesday. The firing took place at around 4:35 am on Wednesday. Police had ruled out terror angle in the shooting.
It has been over 36 hours but there are multiple questions that remain unanswered. Moreover, official secrecy over the incident is fuelling speculation.
SEVERAL QUESTIONS REMAIN UNANSWERED
There are multiple questions that remain unanswered even after 36 hours of the fatal attack.
How did the attackers manage to enter a highly protected military station?
The Bathinda military station is one of the largest military bases in India. Being the headquarters of the 10 Corps of the Army, the military station is a vital operational and logistics base. So, how did the attackers manage to enter such a high-security area is one of the key questions.
The other question that follows is how did the attackers leave the military station? And if they didn’t, are they still inside the high-security area? Even the Indian Army’s statement did not clarify the identity of the two men, calling them “unidentified”.
Mystery still shrouds the case of “the lost and found” INSAS rifle.
It was reported on Wednesday that an INSAS rifle along with a magazine containing 28 rounds had gone missing on Monday from the armoury. Later on Wednesday, it was said the rifle and the magazine were found.
Who stole the gun and 28 rounds of ammunition? Was the missing rifle used to kill the four jawans?
A forensic examination was on to ascertain whether the missing rifle was used to kill the jawans.
The other question that is being asked is why the issue of the stolen weapon and ammunition was reported to the police after two days.
One of the most important unanswered questions is if this was a case of fratricidal killing, why are the Army authorities silent about the involvement of Army personnel. Are some jawans missing?
WHAT THE POLICE SAID
The Punjab Police ruled out a terror attack behind the firing incident. It was reported as an incidence of fratricidal killing.
Two unidentified people in civilian clothes, yet to be identified or apprehended, were believed to be behind Wednesday’s incident. Bathinda Superintendent of Police (Detective) Ajay Gandhi, who headed the police investigation, told reporters that 19 empty shells of an INSAS rifle were found on the spot. A case was registered against the two men under the Arms Act.
According to an eyewitness, the two assailants entered the army area in plain clothes. Both men ran towards a forest near the barracks after the attack.
ALSO READ | Bathinda shooting: 18 incidents of fratricide in Army, 2 in IAF between 2014 and March 2021
WHAT THE ARMY SAID
In a statement, the Indian Army said the four jawans, who were from 80 Medium Regiment (an artillery unit), succumbed to their injuries sustained during the firing. The families of jawans were being informed about the loss of lives, the Indian Army stated.
“It has been ascertained that in the unfortunate incident, four army jawans of an artillery unit succumbed to gunshot injuries sustained during the incident. No other injuries to personnel or loss/damage to property have been reported,” the statement by Army’s South Western Command read.
It said, “The area continues to be sealed off and joint investigations with Punjab Police are being coordinated to establish the facts of the case. All aspects, including the possible case of involvement of an INSAS rifle along with 28 rounds reported missing two days back, are being ascertained.”
It must be pertinent to mention here that one INSAS rifle with 28 cartridges was missing two days before the firing. However, a search team located the missing rifle along with the magazine. A forensic analysis of the weapon will be carried out to ascertain further details.