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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pampore fidayeen attack exposes too many chinks in CRPF’s armour

Convoy moved despite info about strike on June 25. No soldier wore BP vest. Eight soldiers found hit in chest, abdomen and back.

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 28: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deserves applause for the restraint it showed while dealing with the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba fidayeen attack that left 8 soldiers dead and 21 others injured at Pampore on June 25. It gunned down both the militants without causing harm to hundreds of civilians travelling in scores of vehicles on the highway. More significantly, it ignored all the provocation, including hooting from a crowd, that openly supported the assailants.

However, the attack, unprecedented in the Valley in the last three years, has also exposed too many chinks in CRPF’s armour.

STATE TIMES learned from top government sources that Jammu and Kashmir Police had, earlier on June 25, alerted the security forces, particularly CRPF, about a possible militant strike on the national highway or Bypass. Notwithstanding that, men of CRPF 161 Bn proceeded to Jawbiara, Awantipora, and returned from a shooting practice in the most vulnerable trucks and buses on that particular day. The 4-vehicle convoy had one semi-BP QRT vehicle in the rear end.

Not a single of the soldiers even wore the mandatory bullet-proof vest that guards the troops effectively against militant attacks during a movement.

“Terrorists are planning to carry out attacks on the NHW1-A/By-pass. All forces are advised to remain deployed on ROP/ Area of domination/Corridor Protection Teams/QRTs/Highway Domination Teams etc and extremely alert and vigilant to avoid any possible mishaps. Other suitable countermeasures may be put to use immediately”, read a message of special alert received from J&K Police and shared with top Police, CRPF and Army officers in Srinagar under No: 8294-8306 on June 25.

Officials associated with autopsy of the dead and treatment of the injured at Army’s 92 Base Hospital and SKIMS revealed to STATE TIMES that among the eight soldiers killed and the two critically injured, as many as eight were found with gunshots on their trunk, particularly in chest, abdomen and back---the portions that remain protected under a BP vest. According to Standard Operating Procedure, CRPF personnel are required to keep BP vests wearing during all routine, transit and operational movements.

Two of the dead were found hit in their head.

Constable Khursheed, who worked in office of DIG (North) Srinagar and was today flown to AIIMS in a specially arranged air ambulance, was found hit in his spinal cord.  Several others have received injuries in the back. “They have been hit like sitting ducks”, said a Police official who pointed out that J&K DGP has described it as “snake attack”.

CRPF Director General K Durga Prasad, who visited the spot of attack near Masjid Chaharyaar at Frestbal Pampore and had an extensive interaction with the injured soldiers at 92 Base Hospital and SKIMS today, is staying in Srinagar for Wednesday for taking a review of security scenario as also to investigate why CRPF had committed lapses and violated SOPs during its movement despite an alert from J&K Police on June 25. He is likely to share meetings with a three-member team from Union Ministry of Home Affairs that arrived in Srinagar on Tuesday.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

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