Four jawans shot dead in Bathinda Cantt, shooters yet to be nabbed : The Tribune India

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Four jawans shot dead in Bathinda Cantt, shooters yet to be nabbed

Soldiers were asleep in barracks | Police rule out terror angle | Missing INSAS rifle recovered

Sukhmeet Bhasin &

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

Bathinda/New Delhi, April 12

Four Indian Army jawans were shot dead early Wednesday morning while they were sleeping in their barracks at the Bathinda military station. The killers have not been identified so far even as several theories around the killing are being ascertained.

A stolen INSAS automatic rifle that is suspected to have been used in the gruesome killing was recovered in the evening from the military station.

Security men stand guard at the Bathinda military station on Wednesday. Pawan Sharma

The weapon and the 19 empty shells of INSAS which were recovered from the spot of killing have been sent for a forensic examination. The rifle along with a magazine of 28 bullets had been stolen from the station armoury on April 9.

The Army has lodged an FIR with the police in Bathinda and a case under Section 302 of the IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act has been registered. The dead include Gunners Sagar Banne, Karnalesh R , Yogesh Kumar J and Santosh M Nagaral, all from the 80 Medium Regiment of Artillery. The first three were drivers of specialised vehicles that pull artillery guns.

The shooting was carried out inside the barrack behind the officers’ mess of the Regiment around 4.30 am. The Bathinda military station spread over 55 sq km has multiple regiments, and each regiment has its own guard room, sentry post and is walled. Superintendent of Police (Investigation), Bathinda, Ajay Gandhi, heading the Punjab police probe team, said: “Two persons in civvies were believed to be behind this shooting.”

The FIR lodged at the Bathinda Cantt police station mentions that the two accused were wearing white kurta-pyjama and their faces were covered with a cloth. After killing four jawans, the duo escaped into the forest area. A search operation is underway while the military and police are scanning the CCTV footage for clues.

The FIR says Gunners Yogesh Kumar and Sagar Banne, after doing guard duty, went to their room on the first floor of the barrack. The other two Gunners Santosh and Karnalesh were sleeping in an adjoining room.

As the military station woke up to gunshots, a jawan alerted his unit officer about the firing. He mentioned that two unknown persons were seen coming out from the barrack, one of them was carrying an INSAS rifle and the other had a sharp-edged weapon in his hand.Army’s South Western Command headquartered at Jaipur said a joint investigation with the Punjab Police was in progress. The Army’s 10 Corps, headquartered in Bathinda, is tasked to the western borders and is under the Jaipur Command.

Following the firing, the gates of Bathinda military station were closed. The post-mortem of the victims will be conducted at Bathinda Civil Hospital. Bathinda SSP Gulneet Singh Khurana said: “As per the information we have got so far, it is clear that it is not a terrorist attack. We are in touch with the Army authorities and the matter is under investigation.” No other injuries to personnel or loss or damage to property have been reported, the South Western Command said.

Firing at dawn

4.30 am: 4 jawans shot dead in barracks. Maj Shukla alerted. Quick Reaction Teams activated

9.30 am: Army says 4 jawans killed in firing incident

10 am: Bathinda SSP Khurana says ‘not a terrorist attack’

11 am: Army says all aspects, including possible use of missing INSAS rifle, being probed

11.30 am: Army Chief briefs Defence Minister

2.30 pm: FIR by Maj Shukla against 2 unidentified persons

5 pm: Police say two in civil dress suspected to be behind shooting

6 pm: INSAS rifle & magazine located

All victims were from 80 Medium Regiment of Artillery

The slain soldiers: Gunners Sagar Banne | Karnalesh R | Yogesh Kumar J | Santosh M Nagaral

Army headcount says all accounted for

Shooters conversant with topography

  • The shooters knew that topography of the 55 sq km military station where multiple military units are based

Altercation angle

  • Army is probing if the 4 dead jawans had a verbal altercation with anyone within the force or civilians who visit the station for various services

No random shooting

  • Punjab Police have ruled out a terror act as the two killers did not carry out random shooting as terrorists would have. It seemed the shooters knew that the four jawans were sleeping after duty

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