A video purportedly showing sons of two prominent state BJP leaders enjoying a day out at a Border Security Force firing camp in Barmer, trying their hand at shooting with BSF ammunition, sparked a furore on Wednesday, prompting the BSF to institute an inquiry into the incident.
The BSF also issued a showcause notice to a deputy commandant, who features in the video helping the civilians shoot at the Jalipa firing range. In the video, which started circulating Tuesday evening with at least one local television channel airing it, senior state BJP leader Jograj Singh’s son Gourav Singh is allegedly seen firing at least seven rounds.
His friend Shiv Pratap Singh, son of former sarpanch Roop Singh, is seen firing while lying prone on the ground and later standing behind Gourav. The 69-second video is said to have been shot by Shiv Pratap’s brother Ajit Singh.
Sources said the youths, whose fathers are prominent Rajput leaders in the area, used their influence to approach the BSF officials, seeking access to the firing range and ammunition. While Jograj Singh has contested parliamentary elections from Barmer twice on a BJP ticket, Roop Singh is a prominent local BJP leader and has formerly served as sarpanch of Chohtan several times.
Roop Singh said he was not aware of the incident and maintained that the BSF should not have granted permission. “I am not aware of the incident. But this should not have happened. This is a restricted zone. The BSF should have been cautious. How could they allow such a thing?”
Gourav, a lawyer who recently stepped into politics, initially told The Indian Express over the phone that he is “an eminent shooter” and has been with the NCC and held lessons at the National Defence Academy. However, in a subsequent conversation, he maintained that he did not feature in the video.
“The person in the video is not me. I am being targeted by a local media person out of personal vendetta. I have never been to the Jalipa firing range. Although Jalipa is on the way to my village Harsani, I have crossed the area but never stopped by.”
Highly placed sources in the BSF told The Indian Express that the incident took place about a week ago at its Jalipa base, near Barmer town, during the annual range classification firing (ARCF) exercise, which is held to test firing skills of the personnel.
BSF IG, Gandhinagar, Santosh Mehra, who is incharge of the zone, confirmed that such an incident has been reported from its Jalipa base. “We are examining the video carefully and have instituted an inquiry into the incident. The officer who features prominently in the video is a deputy commandant and has been issued a showcause notice.”
“So far we have gathered that the incident took place during our ARCF exercise in which we test the firing skills of our jawans and those who are not found fit are sent for further training. This is an ongoing exercise, so we have not been able to put an exact date to the incident,” he said.
Mehra said that such camps are held in restricted zones and civilians are denied entry. “It is a matter of security and we do not allow civilians in the vicinity of such camps. There was a recent incident in the US where a nine-year-old girl accidentally shot the shooting range instructor. Such incidents can become serious security lapses,” Mehra added.