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What really happened at Bathinda station?

The military station at Bhatinda is a major army establishment as it is the headquarters of the 10th Corps of the Indian Army
Last Updated : 16 April 2023, 19:43 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2023, 19:43 IST

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There is no satisfactory explanation yet for the firing incident at the military station in Bathinda in Punjab last week in which four jawans were killed. It is a matter of concern that the killers are yet to be identified and caught. Four jawans who were sleeping in the barracks were killed early morning last Wednesday but there is little headway in the investigation being done by the Army and the Punjab police.

Two persons wielding a gun and an axe are alleged to have killed the jawans and escaped into a forest. The gun and the ammunition used for the crime were found to have been stolen from the station’s armoury. That shows the killers were inside the station or had support from inside. Later, another jawan was found dead with bullet injuries, allegedly self-inflicted, though this has been claimed to be an unrelated incident.

The military station at Bhatinda is a major army establishment as it is the headquarters of the 10th Corps of the Indian Army. It is a highly protected area with top security and it is strange that such an incident could happen there and the attackers could not be caught for days after the incident. Terror has been ruled out as a possible cause of the attack. It is clear that it was a major security lapse.

Neither the army nor the police have divulged much information. The police have said that the investigation is mainly being
done by the army. The dominant opinion is that the incident could have been a case of fratricide which is not uncommon among the uniformed forces. Such cases have happened in the armed forces and the central paramilitary forces in many stations across the country.

If the Bathinda incident was a case of fratricide, it is another reminder for the leaders of the armed forces that better and more effective steps have to be taken to ensure that the right environment of professional and personal relations prevails. Many personnel are in a state of stress and tension as they are away from their families and there is risk to life, especially in forward positions and other difficult stations.

There are problems about leave and issues related to discipline and the conduct of superior officers. Incidents of fratricide or suicide are bad because they involve human issues affecting many people. They also adversely affect the morale of the forces and therefore all out efforts should be made to ensure that they do not take place.

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Published 16 April 2023, 18:42 IST

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