Hours after Saturday’s gunbattle in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pampore that claimed the lives of two terrorists and eight CRPF men, there was another battle — between the paramilitary force and the Army over who killed the terrorists. CRPF sources allege that the Army tried to take credit for killing the terrorists and even carried away weapons and ammunition found on their bodies, only to return them a few hours later.
According to sources, within an hour of the encounter, the Northern Command of the Indian Army tweeted that it was the Army which killed the terrorists who attacked the CRPF convoy. But the CRPF protested, and conveyed to the Army that the entire ambush was neutralised by CRPF men.
Following this, the Army sent out another tweet, calling the terrorist killings a “joint operation”. But the CRPF raised objections to that as well, and the Army sent out a final tweet giving full credit to the CRPF.
The episode raises serious questions over coordination between different forces engaged in security operations. CRPF sources said the committee probing the encounter would take a look into all these aspects.
The first claim was made by the Northern Command at 5.38 pm — about 50 minutes after the attack — through a tweet which read: “#JKOps Army kills two terrorists who fired upon CRPF convoy at Pampore, Kashmir Ops in prog. Injured CRPF personnel being attended to @adgpi.”
At 6.19 pm, another tweet by the official Twitter handle of the Northern Command said: “#JKOps Update on Pampore ops. Injured CRPF personnel evacuated to hospital. Two terrorists killed in joint op by security forces @adgpi.”
At 6.37 pm, the handle tweeted a third message with the final correction: “#JKOps Update on Pampore Ops. Two terrorists killed by CRPF in retaliatory action. Earlier tweet stands corrected. @adgpi”
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While CRPF sources claimed it was an unabashed attempt by the Army to claim credit in an operation in which it was not involved, Army sources said it was an error as an Army operation was going on in Uri. “To be fair to the Army, senior officers later apologised for the episode,” a senior CRPF officer said.
The paramilitary force is also learnt to be upset about Army personnel “carrying away guns and grenades” found on the body of the slain terrorists.
“When our senior officers reached the spot, they found the arms and ammunition missing. This was serious because how could we explain the killing of two men without any recoveries. It was then learnt that Armymen had carried them to their camp. We asked them to return the arms and ammo immediately. When it began to take too long, we sent a team which retrieved the weapons from there after three hours,” claimed a senior CRPF officer. He also claimed that at the Army camp, officers were taking selfies with the recovered items.
In response to the allegations, the Army headquarters in Delhi released an official statement on Tuesday evening: “Encounter resulted in death of eight CRPF personnel and injury to over 20. Two terrorists were also killed. The RR troops, which responded, helped evacuate CRPF casualties as well as terrorists from sight of encounter. Bodies of terrorists along with their weapons, ammunition and magazines were handed over to J&K police as per law.”