June 2016 News

CRPF, Army Fight For Pampore Credit

27 June 2016
Times of India
Bharti Jain

New Delhi: An ugly blamegame has broken out between CRPF and Army in aftermath of the Pampore terror attack, with the former accusing Rashtriya Rifles of 'unauthorisedly' taking away weapons, ammunition and even dates carried by the two dead Lashkar-e- Taiba jihadis. The Army, in turn, has dismissed the CRPF claims that weapons and other material was carried off as 'utter rubbish' and a ploy to 'divert attention from the utter laxity exhibited by the para-military personnel while travelling in the militancy-hit area'. There are conflicting claims on the role of Rashtriya Rifles in neutralisation of the two Lashkar attackers. While CRPF DG K Durga Prasad on Monday said Rashtriya Rifles personnel arrived only after the counter-operation was over, Army officially claimed the quick reaction team of Rashtriya Rifles in the area responded as soon as the incident took place. tnn Sources in the Army asserted that Rashtriya Rifles was in fact instrumental in killing the terrorists. An official even claimed the Army let CRPF take credit for the counter-operation to boost the force's sagging morale in the wake of their failure to deal with the ambush and the high casualty figure. While CRPF termed the Army's bid to 'hog credit for the Pampore counter-operation as juvenile and embarrassing', Army said it not only responded promptly to the incident, but helped evacuate injured CRPF men and two dead terrorists from the encounter site. 'The bodies of the terrorists, along with their weapons, ammunition and magazines, were then handed over to the J&K Police as per the law.' The confusion also played out on Twitter on Saturday. Soon after the operation, Army's Northern Command tweeted, 'Army kills two terrorists who fired upon CRPF convoy at Pampore, Kashmir Ops in prog. Injured CRPF personnel being attended to'. CRPF claims as soon as the tweet was noticed, its brass in J&K contacted Northern Command to protest. This, they said, prompted 'an embarrassed' Northern Command to post: 'Update on Pampore Ops. Two terrorists killed by CRPF in retaliatory action. Earlier tweet stands corrected.' CRPF maintains its personnel deployed in the nearby bunker killed the terrorists, while around 500 rounds were fired from inside the convoy vehicles. 'This was the best possible response given the circumstances,' said a senior CRPF officer. CRPF claims Rashtriya Rifles team quietly removed the weapons, grenades, magazines, and some eatables strapped to dead bodies of the two LeT terrorists and took them to their camp. This prompted CRPF brass in J&K, which till then was busy coordinating movement of the dead and injured to the hospital, to contact the higher formations of the Army for immediate return of the weapons. 'We were told these would be returned but when nobody came with the weapons, some middle-ranking officers of the CRPF were sent to the Rashtriya Rifles camp to collect them. When our men reached there, the officers there were clicking selfies with the weapons. The dates that terrorists carried were missing. The weapons and grenades were handed to us almost two hours after they were taken,' a CRPF officer told TOI. When contacted by TOI, Srinagar-based Colonel N N Joshi said he did not have any inputs regarding the alleged issues raised by CRPF.