Army Jawan arrested for killing four soldiers in Bathinda Military Station with stolen rifle

Chandigarh/New Delhi: According to an official, an Army jawan has been arrested for allegedly killing four soldiers at the Bathinda Military Station with a stolen assault rifle.

Gunner Desai Mohan had earlier claimed that he saw two men with a rifle and an axe near the site of the firing at the military base in Punjab, Bathinda Senior Superintendent of Police Gulneet Singh Khurana said.

Later, he confessed to killing Sagar Banne, Yogesh Kumar J, Santosh M Nagaral and Kamalesh R with a stolen INSAS weapon on April 12, he said.

An official said Mohan alleged that he was physically abused by these soldiers.
Khurana, however, said the motive cannot be disclosed before the media but Mohan had some personal enmity with these soldiers.

The Army reported the death of another soldier at the same military base a day after the shooting incident but it said it was not linked to the killings.
“The case purportedly seems to be of attempted suicide,” the Army had said.

On April 12, Mohan said he saw two unidentified men, their faces and heads covered with cloth, coming out of the barracks after the firing. However, he kept changing his statements, the SSP said.
Speaking to the media in Bathinda, Khurana said Mohan tried to mislead investigators from the beginning. Since one weapon had gone missing, he concocted the story having seen two persons in ‘kurta-pyjama’ carrying the INSAS rifle.

In a statement, the Army said, “After sustained interrogation, one individual named Gunner Desai Mohan, from the artillery unit where the incident occurred has confessed to his involvement in stealing an INSAS rifle and killing four of his colleagues to the police,” the Army said.

The INSAS rifle along with 28 rounds of ammunition — 20 cartridges and eight rounds of LMG — went missing from the base two days before the firing incident.

During the investigation, it became clear that an INSAS rifle and cartridges, which were stolen, were used in this incident, Khurana said.

He said in incidents in which an “internal weapon” is used, it raises suspicion of the involvement of an insider.

“The statement made by the individual while filing the initial FIR on April 12, mentioning two persons in civil dress with INSAS rifle and axe was an attempt to divert attention of investigating agencies,” the Army said.

“Initial investigations indicate that this was apparently due to personal reasons/animosity,” the Army said in a statement.
“As per his confession, on early morning of April 9, he stole the weapon along with a filled magazine. He then hid the weapon,” the Army said.
Mohan then proceeded to throw the weapon into a sewage pit, it said.

Police had recovered 19 empty cartridges of the INSAS rifle from the spot.
After committing the crime, Mohan dumped the weapon and eight live cartridges and a cartridge that got misfired into the pit, SSP Khurana said, adding that the rifle was recovered the same day.
Out of nine cartridges, we recovered seven cartridges. Our joint operation with the Army is underway, he added.

The bag in which he had concealed the weapon and cloth in which he hid the cartridges have been recovered, Khurana said.
The Army reiterated that there is no terror angle in the case as speculated earlier in some media reports.

“Indian Army practises zero tolerance to such acts of indiscipline and is committed to ensure that the guilty will get punished as per law,” the Army said.

It said all possible assistance is being provided to Punjab Police and other agencies for early conclusion of investigations.
The accused jawan will be produced before a court here, SSP Khurana said.
An army official in the press briefing said four jawans who were killed in the shooting were unmarried.

The Bathinda military station is one of the largest Army bases in the country and comprises a significant number of operational units of the force.
(With PTI inputs)

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