Army adopts Topa Pir as model village after recent civilian deaths in J&K

Lieutenant General Navin Sachdeva, General-Officer-Commanding (GOC) of the White Knight Corps, in-charge of the Pir Panjal valley, apprises Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha of the Army’s outreach efforts

Updated - January 14, 2024 12:21 am IST

Published - January 13, 2024 09:20 pm IST - SRINAGAR

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha meet the families of three civilians who were killed near the site of an anti-terrorist operation in Poonch. File photo: X/@SpokespersonMoD via ANI

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha meet the families of three civilians who were killed near the site of an anti-terrorist operation in Poonch. File photo: X/@SpokespersonMoD via ANI

The Army has rolled out fresh measures to reach out to the locals in Pir Panjal valley, which has turned into a new battleground in Jammu and Kashmir, and started its initiative by adopting Topa Pir village, where three civilians allegedly died due to torture in custody recently, as a model village.

The Army has adopted Topa Pir village in Poonch district as a model village under the Sadbhavana scheme, an Army spokesman said. The village hit the headlines after a video of alleged torture of civilians went viral in December last year, in the wake of four soldiers being killed in an ambush by militants in Dera Ki Gali area on December 21. Three civilians were found dead after they were taken into custody for questioning by the Army.

The incident evoked widespread criticism and dented the goodwill among the Gujjars and Bakarwals, who mainly inhabit areas close to the Line of Control (LoC) in the region. Three Army officers, including the Brigadier in-charge, were attached until pending inquiry after the incident.

L-G apprised

Official sources said Lieutenant General Navin Sachdeva, General-Officer-Commanding (GOC) of the White Knight Corps, in-charge of the Pir Panjal valley, apprised J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at Raj Bhavan on Saturday about the Army’s outreach to locals, besides briefing him about the current security situation there.

Six encounters left 21 soldiers dead in the Pir Panjal valley in 2023.

Meanwhile, Northern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Upendra Dwivedi along with Chinar Corps commander Lt. Gen. Rajeev Ghai visited forward battalions in the Machhal sector in Kashmir Valley.

“The Army Commander interacted with troops and personnel of Rashtriya Rifles, J-K Police, BSF and Border Roads Organisation and commended them for their persistent vigilance and compelling contribution to maintaining lasting peace in the region,” the Army said.

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