Brigadier, 3 others shifted; Army chief visits Poonch; conduct operations in ‘most professional manner’, says General

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SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI: The Army on Sunday transferred a Brigadier and three other officers of 13 Rashtriya Rifles, following the December 21 terrorist ambush that left four soldiers dead in J&K’s Poonch and the discovery of bodies of three men from a nearby village at the attack site a day later. The mysterious deaths of the trio had sparked protests in the Valley, amid allegations that they died in custody after being picked up for questioning.
Official sources confirmed the transfers on Monday, hours before Army chief General Manoj Pande visited the sensitive Rajouri-Poonch sector to assess the force’s operational preparedness and “exhorted the commanders to conduct the operations in the most professional manner”.
Officials confirmed the shifting of Brig Padam Acharya, the brigade commander of the Rashtriya Rifles unit responsible for operations in the Surankote area, along with three other senior officers in the aftermath of the death of three civilians — aged 27 to 42 — and injuries to about 10 others, who were detained for questioning after the ambush.
The Army is considering disciplinary action following a thorough internal investigation, while the J&K police has filed an FIR in the case. Following outrage over the civilian deaths, the J&K administration had announced compensation and jobs for the deceased’s families.
The Poonch-Rajouri region falls under the jurisdiction of the Army’s Nagrota-based strategic White Knight Corps, commonly known as 16 Corps. Sources said defence minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to visit Jammu on December 27 and meet top officers of 16 Corps, besides holding a security review meeting.
In Poonch, Gen Pande was briefed by senior Army officers on the ongoing counter-terror operations in Surankote and the nearby Rajouri district’s Thanamandi forest belt. He also discussed measures taken to strengthen the security grid. “General Manoj Pande… was given an update on the security situation. COAS interacted with commanders on ground, exhorted them to conduct operations in the most professional manner and remain resolute and steadfast against all challenges,” an Army statement said.
The Army chief’s visit comes amid two to three major attacks in the 13 RR area, prompting discussions about a change of command. Lt Gen Sachdev, currently posted at the Army headquarters, is expected to take over as Corps Commander on January 1 from Lt Gen Sandeep Jain. A decorated officer with Garhwal Rifles, Lt Gen Sachdev has served in many key positions in the Army.
Earlier in the day, Gen Pande paid homage to the four slain soldiers — Naik Birender Singh, Naik Karan Kumar, Rifleman Gautam Kumar, and Rifleman Chandan Kumar — who were ambushed while en route to reinforce a joint operation against terrorists at Dhatyar Morh between Dhera Ki Gali and Bufliaz-Surankote.
In Kashmir Valley, Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi paid homage to the four in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony before their mortal remains were sent to respective hometowns. Birender and Gautam were from Uttarakhand, while Karan was from UP’s Kanpur and Chandan was a native of Bihar’s Nawada.
According to sources, the search operation continued, with troops securing all routes in the thickly forested area to prevent terrorists from escaping towards the LoC and crossing over to Pakistan. Mobile internet services remained suspended in both Poonch and Rajouri districts for the third day on Monday as a precautionary measure to prevent misinformation and maintain law and order.



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