Twin Blasts Rock LoC; Jawan Killed, Major Among 8 Injured

12 June 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: In two powerful blasts on the Line of Control (LoC) in a gap of about nine hours, an Army jawan was killed and eight others including a Major of Engineering Regiment were injured in Tarkundi forward area of Balakote sector in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district today. The first blast was targeted attack on Army with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and was reportedly triggered with a remote control device from across the LoC while the second blast occurred when the troops sanitizing the area accidentally stepped over a mine. In the first IED blast that took place at 8.45 am, an Army jawan was killed and three others were injured while in the second explosion that occurred at about 5.30 pm, an Army Major and four other jawans were injured. Official sources told the Excelsior that Major KK Bhatia of 66 Engineering Regiment was leading a team of Army jawans to sanitize forward Tarkundi area right on the LoC in Balakote sector of Poonch district when the troops accidentally stepped over a landmine, leading to a powerful explosion. Major Bhatia, Havaldar Sushil Kumar, Sepoy Sukhwinder Singh and two other jawans sustained injuries in the explosion that took place at 5.30 pm. While two jawans, who had suffered very minor injuries were treated locally, Major Bhatia, Sushil Kumar and Sukhwinder Singh were rushed to GH Rajouri from where Singh was further referred to Military Hospital, Udhampur. The Major and Kumar were admitted in Rajouri and their condition was stated to be stable. Senior Army officers of the area reviewed the situation after twin blasts on the LoC. Earlier in the day, in first major action along the LoC after takeover of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government and visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to India on May 26, the Indian troops were targeted with a powerful IED along the LoC in same Tarkundi area of Balakote sector from across the LoC this morning in which an Army soldier was killed and three others were injured, all of them seriously. The IED is reported to have been blasted from Pakistan side either by the Army or by the Border Action Team (BAT) of Lashkar-e-Toiba using a remote control device. It was, however, not clear immediately as to which of the two- Pakistan Army or BAT triggered the blast but troops were looking into various angles. Two Army units-20 Jat Regiment and 6 Rajputana Rifles were changing place of posting at Tarkundi when the IED blast was triggered from across the LoC. 6 Rajputana Rifles was replacing 20 Jat Regiment in the area at 8.30 am. The handover, takeover generally lasts several days as the outgoing unit had to brief the new unit thoroughly about geographical location, mined area, traditional infiltration routes and other strategic locations before finally moving out. Sources said that an IED planted between Cheera and Peer Post of the Army at Tarkundi sector of was blasted from across the LoC using remote control device at 8.45 am when the Army jawans of 20 Jat Regiment and 6 Rajputana Rifles were engaged in handover and takeover. Four Army jawans were injured in the blast. All of them with serious injuries were airlifted to Rajouri Hospital. One of the Army jawan Sepoy Shankar Singh succumbed to his injuries while three other injured jawans were airlifted to the Military Hospital, Udhampur in view of their serious condition. The injured have been identified as Lance Naik Mohinder Singh, Sepoy Sham Veer Singh and Sepoy Shailender Prakash. Troops immediately cordoned off the area and launched a major search operation. However, no untoward movement was noticed on this side of the LoC, which clearly indicated that the IED had been blasted using a remote control device from Pakistan side either by Pakistan Army or Lashkar's BAT, which has been active on the LoC and earlier also had triggered a similar action in Akhnoor sector on May 18 in which an Army jawan was killed and 5 others were injured. There had been an infiltration attempt by the militants in Tarkundi sector three days back, which the troops had foiled. Sources said it was being ascertained as to how and when the IED was planted on the LoC to target the troops. Defence spokesman Col Manish Mehta also said that a patrol party of the Army was targeted by a suspected IED near a forward post on the LoC in which an Army jawan lost his life and three others were injured. He said the General Officer Commanding (GOC) White Knight Corps has expressed his deepest condolences to the family of martyred jawan Sepoy Shankar Singh. On second blast in the evening, Col Mehta said: 'one jawan accidentally stepped on mine and sustained injury in his leg while an officer sustained minor splinter injury. Both of them are being treated at service hospital and their condition is reportedly out of danger when the reports last came in'. Body of the jawan is being sent to his native town with full military honours after post-mortem and completion of other formalities. Troops have been maintaining high alert all along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir in view of upcoming Amarnath yatra and Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. However, this was first major action on the LoC caused from across after Modi Government took charge and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief visited India to attend oath ceremony of Modi along with other SAARC leaders.