Concerned over Army 'setbacks', govt wants lapses investigated


Alarmed by the successive high-impact attacks on the Army in Jammu and Kashmir, the government, it is learnt, has strongly conveyed its concerns to the Army top brass over security lapses leading to these incidents and asked for a detailed investigation into this aspect in ongoing inquiries.

Top sources said that initial reports on the August 5 Poonch attack in which five Indian soldiers were killed, and last month's incident in Samba in which militants entered the officer's mess of an armoured regiment and killed the second-in-command, have indicated lapses and this has got the highest levels of government quite upset.

In fact, there is discomfiture even over the just concluded operations in the Keran sector. The fact that a large group of militants, be it infiltrators or terrorists waiting to attack an Army patrol, had gained access to the Indian side of the Line of Control has by itself generated considerable concern.

The tall claims to the media in the initial days of the gun battle, sources said, have also not gone down well.

While the defence ministry will take a closer look at the Keran episode now that the Army has finally called off operations, the Samba incident remains a major issue with the government as it came just a couple of days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York.

Even though the Army has ordered a court of inquiry, the defence ministry has specifically asked the military top brass to account for the lapses and take action against those responsible.

On top of the list of lapses was the ease with which militants could enter the unit, the lack of a quick response which meant the militants could get into the officer's mess unhindered and the larger absence of coordination with the local police that could have alerted all military formations about the attack on the Hira Nagar police station by the same militants more than an hour before they reached the 16 Cavalry location.

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