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Updated December 25th, 2023 at 18:48 IST

Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande assesses Rajouri-Poonch security amidst Staff Court Inquiry

Army Chief General Manoj Pande arrived in Poonch to assess the situation after an ambush on the convoy of 48th RR Battalion in Dera Ki Gali on Wednesday.

Yuvraj Tyagi
Gen Manoj Pande
The visit underscores the challenges faced in the region, with ongoing operations against militants and a changing command in the 16 Corps. | Image:ADGPI
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Army Chief General Manoj Pande visited the Rajouri-Poonch sector on Monday to assess the prevailing security situation in the region. This visit comes amidst a Staff Court of Inquiry initiated by the Army to investigate the unfortunate demise of three civilians who were in Army custody following the Dera ki Gali attack.

Soldiers from Indian Army’s 48th Battalion of Rashtriya Rifles were ambushed on Wednesday when suspected militants attacked two Army vehicles—a gypsy and a truck—en route to the anti-militancy operation in Poonch. The ambush took place on a road between Dera-Ki-Gali (DKG) and Buffliaz areas in Surankote tehsil of Poonch. The attackers managed to flee with some rifles of the targeted soldiers after the ambush. 

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In response to the attack, additional reinforcements were swiftly dispatched to support the troopers in their pursuit of the attackers. Acting on hard intelligence, a joint operation was launched in the DKG area. The encounter with the militants is currently in progress, as per a statement from a defense spokesperson.  

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Brigadier attached as Army initiates staff court of inquiry 

General Pande examined the sites of recent attacks on security forces in the Poonch-Rajouri sector. He received comprehensive briefings on the situation from Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi and other senior officers on the ground. A Brigadier has been attached for the Staff Court of Inquiry, a significant step in scrutinizing the circumstances surrounding the incident. The inquiry aims to investigate the death of three civilians and the losses suffered by the Army in the area in recent months. 

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The Poonch-Rajouri sectors fall under the jurisdiction of the 16 Corps, currently witnessing a routine change in command as Lt Gen Sandeep Jain hands over the reins to Lt Gen Naveen Sachdev. The Indian Army is fortifying its preparedness along the Line of Control and the International Border in response to heightened activities by Pakistani terrorists. This includes ongoing counterterrorism operations and strategic measures to address security gaps. 

Pir Panjal, encompassing Rajouri district along with Poonch and parts of Reasi districts, has experienced a surge in militancy in recent years. Several Army soldiers have lost their lives in ambushes by militants in the region, highlighting the challenging security landscape. This attack comes less than a month after a brutal incident in the Baajimal area of the adjoining Rajouri district, where two army officers and an equal number of soldiers were killed. The intensity of the attack forced security forces to retreat temporarily, regroup, and then confront the militants, underscoring the formidable challenges faced by the armed forces in the region. 

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An official statement from the Indian Army highlighted General Pande's interaction with ground commanders, emphasizing the need for operations to be conducted with utmost professionalism. He urged the forces to remain resolute and steadfast in the face of evolving challenges. 

As the situation in the Rajouri-Poonch sector unfolds, the Indian Army remains committed to securing the nation's borders and safeguarding its citizens against external threats. The outcome of the Staff Court of Inquiry will be keenly awaited as it plays a pivotal role in ensuring transparency and accountability within the armed forces. 

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Published December 25th, 2023 at 18:48 IST

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