An army probe will be looking at laxity, if any, by the unit that was guarding the Poonch sector when five Indian soldiers were killed in cross-border raid on August 6, a top officer told HT.
The strike came when 21 Bihar, which had been deployed there for almost three years, was on its way out and a new unit — 14 Maratha Light Infantry — was coming in.
“Sometimes units can drop guard during the fag-end of their tenure at the line of control (LoC). Laxity cannot be ruled out but only a probe can pinpoint what went wrong,” said the officer, who learnt his trade in Jammu and Kashmir.
If laxity is established, heads will roll in the chain of command.
The patrol logs of 21 Bihar will also be scrutinised to ascertain if there was any element of predictability in the patrolling patterns that may have helped the Pakistan army’s special services group (SSG) plan and carry out the ambush, 450 metres on the Indian side of the LoC.
The attackers tiptoed around anti-personnel mines to ambush the Indian patrol in the dead of night, indicating that they had gathered intelligence over several weeks.
He said such a strike could have been carried out only if there were lapses at tactical level, but it would be unfair to jump to any conclusions before the probe was over.
A senior army officer said formation commanders routinely caution local commanders on the LoC to be extra vigilant in the months ahead of a changeover. “Both sides are sitting eyeball to eyeball and pick up each other’s weak spots. Sometimes mistakes can happen if you are careless.”
Former army vice-chief Lieutenant General Vijay Oberoi told HT: “There’s a natural tendency among battalions moving out to lower their guard. That appears to have happened in Poonch.”
Battalions deployed along the LoC are typically responsible for guarding a frontage of 10-15 km.