A protest by soldiers posted in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir - following suicide by a colleague, who had been denied leave to go home- gathered more dust on Thursday as defence minister AK Antony sought a detailed report from Army chief Gen Bikram Singh even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tried to downplay it.
A defence spokesperson said Antony had expressed concern over the incident and asked for a report at the earliest from the Army chief, sources said. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the matter and a Brigadier-level officer is heading the inquiry.
On Wednesday, jawans and officers of an armoured unit posted in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba district were allegedly involved in a face-off after a soldier committed suicide. This is the second such incident in the past four months. Earlier in May, a commanding officer, two majors and two jawans were grievously injured in clashes after breach of discipline in Nyoma in Ladakh.
The PM, meanwhile, termed it a "small incident" that was being blown out of proportion. His response came in the Rajya Sabha during Zero Hour after CPI-M members termed yesterday's incident as breach of discipline.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said, "It's a serious matter. Let the defence minister respond."
As Antony was not present, the Prime Minister rose to respond and said: "I request the House not to have a discussion on the subject...This is a very small incident. This is a small incident, which is being blown out of proportion. It is not good for the morale of our armed forces." The members relented after the Prime Minister spoke.
Arun V, a jawan of the 16th Cavalry regiment, had committed suicide on Wednesday with his service weapon after being denied leave by his higher-ups. The jawan, it is said, was facing some issues back home. After his death, other soldiers protested against the officers and surrounded their residences. Army's Yol-based Z Corps Commander Lt Gen AK Bhalla went to the unit to bring the tempers down.