New Delhi, Aug. 8: At least three officers in the chain of command of the soldiers who were killed in the attack by Pakistan Army special forces and militants on Monday night are set to be quizzed on whether they enforced and monitored the norms set for patrolling the Line of Control.
Army chief General Bikram Singh met these officers during his visit to Jammu yesterday. A court of inquiry was already ordered on Tuesday. The army chief is understood to have “given a piece of his mind” at a meeting in the 16 corps headquarters in Nagrota.
The Telegraph had reported on Thursday that there were suspicions of a “command failure” because of which the attackers could come into territory monitored by the army and kill the soldiers.
This morning, the army chief briefed the defence minister and senior officials before A.K. Antony read out his statement in Parliament that mollified the Opposition.
The defence minister, who told Parliament that “specialised troops” of the Pakistan Army were among the attackers, was explained that these commandos were from the Special Services Group (SSG). Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf (now in jail) was an SSG company commander in the 1971 war with India.
The defence minister had a separate meeting with the army chief after the briefing and before going to Parliament fully convinced. The army chief is understood to have reported his findings and assessment from his meetings in the Northern Command and with the officers during his visit to Jammu.
Monday night’s attack was timed to coincide with the handing over of the Poonch sector by the 21 Bihar battalion to the 14 Maratha Light Infantry. The two Maratha soldiers in the six-man patrol — only one of whom survived the murderous assault — were being familiarised along a track in an area that is heavily mined.
For the attackers to have found their way in and out through one of the most heavily militarised borders of the world — militarised for more than 40 years — and into enemy territory required skills of the kind that the Pakistan Army’s SSG was raised for, the defence minister was told in his briefing.
A large part of what the army chief learnt during his visit was from the account narrated by the only surviving soldier, Sepoy Sambhaji Kute, from the patrol. He is said to have learnt that the patrol engaged the attackers in a firefight despite being outnumbered.
Kute, who was injured but is not in danger, was also reported to have fired back and prevented the attackers from escaping with the weapons of his comrades, one army source said.