Four dead in 'firing incident' at Bathinda military garrison in India

The area has been cordoned off and a search operation is under way

Indian paramilitary soldiers in Srinagar. EPA
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At least four fatalities were reported inside a military garrison after a “firing incident” in India’s northern Punjab state on Wednesday, the Indian Army has said.

The army said the incident was reported in the early hours of Wednesday inside the Bathinda military station.

The army did not reveal the identities of the victims.

“The Station Quick Reaction Teams were activated and the area was cordoned off and sealed. Search operation in progress,” it said.

The Sikh-majority state shares a border with Pakistan, which has fought several wars with India, and has also witnessed recent violence by groups demanding a separate nation for the Sikh religious minority.

Punjab has been on the edge since last month when authorities launched a manhunt for firebrand Sikh separatist preacher Amritpal Singh.

Mr Singh has in recent months rallied a huge following by demanding the creation of Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland, the struggle for which sparked deadly violence in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s.

He remains at large after eluding a huge police dragnet involving thousands of police officers and a statewide internet shutdown that lasted several days.

However, Punjab police sources say the incident could have been carried out by a solider, ruling out terrorism as a possible motive.

“About two days ago one Insas rifle with 28 cartridges had gone missing. Some army personnel may be behind this,” Asian News Wire reported, quoting police sources.

The army said a joint investigation in co-ordination with the Punjab Police is being conducted “to establish the facts of the case”.

Bathinda's top police official GS Khurana also told broadcaster NDTV that the incident did not appear to be a terrorist attack.

Updated: April 12, 2023, 7:57 AM