Four soldiers of the 42 Rashtriya Rifles were killed and another wounded on Thursday, when a fellow soldier indiscriminately opened fire at a camp in Awantipora, 30 km south of Srinagar.
Abhay Kumar had allegedly borrowed money from his colleagues and refused to return it, and when they informed their senior officer, an angry Kumar went on a shooting spree.
“The soldier fired at his colleagues using his AK-47 rifle, resulting in the death of a junior commissioned officer and three others,” army spokesperson Lt Col JS Brar said.
Kumar was apprehended soon after the incident and is in military custody, said army officials.
The injured soldier was rushed to a nearby hospital and is reportedly out of danger.
The slain soldiers have been identified as junior commission officer Subhedar Jaipal Singh, Naik Indersen Singh, Solankar Dutta and Ram Lakhan Sharma.
The army has ordered a high-level inquiry into the case.
There have been several incidents of fratricidal shootouts and suicides among security forces in the state in the past. Stressful conditions have been blamed for more than 70 deaths in similar incidents in the armed forces since 2001.
According to experts, continued deployment under hostile conditions, separation from families and lack of recreational facilities, are among the factors believed to be causing such incidents.
To address the problem, the army has taken several steps, including improved recreational avenues, frequent leaves for soldiers and a better command and control structure.
“The army has institutionalised stress-management measures such as constant counseling by superiors and religious teachers, regular rest, yoga and other such means,” Brar said. This is the first incident of fratricide in the army in the Valley in almost two years. “We will take suitable measures to prevent re-occurrence of such incidents,” Brar said.
Getting trigger happy
Nov 11, 2007: A soldier opened fire and killed two senior colleagues at a training camp in Bhaderwah, Doda district
March 20, 2007: A soldier killed a colleague at an army camp in Zanglipora, Kupwara district
Nov 28, 2004: An irate paramilitary soldier gunned down 7 of his colleagues and critically injured two others in Baramulla.