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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

I was on leave: Army officer blamed for LoC issue

Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, January 14, 2013
First Published: 23:39 IST(14/1/2013) | Last Updated: 10:54 IST(15/1/2013)

Brigadier GS Rawat, Commander of the 161 Brigade in Uri, blamed by sections of the local and national media for provoking the most gruesome Pakistani attack on Indian Armymen in recent memory in Poonch district of Jammu on January 8, has vehemently denied the allegation.

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"I was on leave from December 26 to January 8, 2013," Rawat told HT after the GOC of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lt General Om Prakash, defended him in an interview in local newspapers in Srinagar on Monday.

Rawat, who has been accused of aggressive action following a low-grade exchange of fire that night, said Indian troops at the border exercised maximum restraint.

"On January 6, they started attacking Charunda village, which is dominated by them as they are at a height, around 2pm. Shells were fired from their side towards us," Rawat said.

"We retaliated but in a very contained and restricted manner as we did not want our villagers to be harmed," he said.

"Two Pakistani soldiers were killed in the crossfire but there were no face-to-face clashes as reported by the media," Rawat said. "We value the lives of our civilians. We know that troops from the other side will target residents of our border villages. So, we exercise maximum possible restraint," he said.

Lt Gen Prakash was quoted as saying that there was no provocation from the Indian side. "Rather, it came from them when they started firing for about two hours from 2am during the intervening night of January 5 and 6. When it becomes a constant pattern, then we have to defend ourselves and that is how it happened that day," he said.

The GOC maintained that the same Pakistani unit fired towards the Indian side in October, killing three villagers in Churunda, including 15-year-old Liyaquat who was on his way to school for an exam.


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