Less than a fortnight after Northern Army Commander tendered apology to J-K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah over the controversial press release issued by Army PRO, Udhampur-based Northern Command PRO has been transferred and a new media officer has been posted in his place.
PRO, Ministry of Defence, Northern Command, Lt Col P Kochhar has been transferred and Col S Kalia has been posted in his place with immediate effect, defence sources told PTI.
Col Kochhar, who was appointed in November 2 as PRO, of Udhampur-based Northern Command, has been shifted to MoD, New Delhi, they said.
Defence sources, however, maintain that the PRO had issued handout cleared by Headquarters of Northern Command and was made scape goat. "He will fight his case with proof in this regard as he not done the mistake for which he is being punished," they claimed.
A red-faced Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal had apologised to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on December one for a press note criticising his government for removing bunkers, saying it was inadvertently issued by a junior officer.
The apology came close on the heels of Omar complaining to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the army's public criticism of the state government's policies to deal with militancy.
An army spokesperson had issued a release on December 2, saying that Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal "has apologised to Chief Minister of J and K on December one, 2010 to resolve the issue.
"The State Government and the Army are maintaining best of relations and would continue to do so. The Chief Minister and the Army Commander share extremely cordial relations and have best of functional rapport. The entire episode is deeply regretted," he said.
On a press release issued on November 30, which was withdrawn the same day, the army spokesperson said, "the views expressed were personal predilections of a junior officer, which were inadvertently issued as a press release.
"The contents were neither cleared by Headquarters, Northern Command or by the Directorate of Public Relations, Ministry of Defence, nor does the Army subscribe to the views expressed," the spokesperson said.
The controversy arose after the Northern Command issued a press release on the encounter that took place on November 29 on the outskirts of Srinagar in which three militants and a policeman were killed.
The release claimed that the encounter had taken place only because of removal of bunkers by Omar government, which was "compelled to give in" and that it could have "pleased a few hardline separatists and their ISI handlers".
The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister has been demanding withdrawal or amendment to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) to make it more humane.