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Jawan kills 5 sleeping colleagues

Srinagar, Feb. 27: A soldier killed five sleeping colleagues before shooting himself dead last night at an army camp in Kashmir, making it the biggest incident of fratricide within security forces in the state in years.

While the army is tight-lipped on what triggered the incident, official sources said sepoy Ranbir Singh had an altercation with some of his colleagues before he left their 13 Rashtriya Rifles camp in Ganderbal district for night duty in a bunker.

The sources said the incident occurred around 2am when Singh returned to the camp and opened fire in two rooms.

Two soldiers died inside one room and three in the adjoining one. “It was the dead of night when people inside the barracks were sleeping. One jawan was injured and is in hospital. After the attack, Singh rushed back to his bunker where he killed himself with the same rifle,” an army official said.

The slain soldiers were identified as Rahul Matra, Jani Rajput, Amit Kumar, Surinder Singh and Mohammad Ansari.

Defence spokesman Lt. Colonel N.N. Joshi said an inquiry had been ordered.

Police have registered a case and launched their own investigation. “We are recording the statements of witnesses to find out what had happened. The post-mortems on the soldiers have been conducted. We are waiting for the reports,” a police officer said near the camp at Safapora village in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal.

Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been facing such incidents but the number has come down in recent years after a series of measures aimed at helping soldiers deal with stress or domestic troubles.

Studies have blamed the incidents on increasing stress among jawans because of domestic problems, hostile environments, poor leadership and counter-insurgency operations that keep personnel away from families for long.

The last major incident in the state took place in 2011 when a CRPF jawan killed three sleeping colleagues at a camp in Kulgam.

Three incidents took place last year, claiming the lives of four jawans. In one instance, a Sashastra Seema Bal jawan ran amok at his camp in Jammu’s Kishtwar district, killing two colleagues and injuring two.