New Delhi: The army chief, General Dalbir Singh on Wednesday defended martyred National Security Guard officer, Lieutenant Colonel E.K. Niranjan, saying he followed all safety procedures while defusing a bomb at the IAF base in Pathankot in Punjab.
Bomb disposal expert Niranjan died when an explosive planted on the body of one of the terrorists went off in the counter-offensive at the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot went off.
The army chief’s statement came in the wake of a media report that accused the martyred officer of carelessness in handling the situation.
“I checked with the army commander… he also checked on ground… all procedures were followed by him… So whatever is the laid down method, he followed. It is very difficult today for you and me to decide and say where things have gone wrong,” General Singh said.
“Probably some booby trap, which he did not expect on the body, was there and despite having followed the brief, unfortunately this has happened… Otherwise, I would say this officer was the most qualified officer to handle that kind of situation,” he said.
The army chief said that the officer was experienced and the best person to handle the situation, but he fell prey to a booby trap.
“I must tell you, the officer had handled 3,500-4,500 kg of explosive in a year. There was no one, I think, better than him to handle this kind of situation,” General Singh said.
“The casualties that took place (of the terrorists), it was immediately after that… It was around the time the darkness was setting in,” he said talking about the timing of the incident.
The general said he had instructed the Western Army Command chief that such dead bodies should not be handled after dark.
“When I learnt of it, I was talking to the army commander very often taking inputs. I told the army commander the casualties should not be handled at night. Whatever has to be done has to be done during day time by the bomb disposal squad,” he said.
The January 2 terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab left seven security personnel dead. However, only one security personnel was killed in direct counter-offensive. Five others died in the firing at the air force mess.
“Most casualties were in the initial firing. One of the Defence Service Corps personnel chased one terrorist, snatched his rifle and shot him. Unfortunately, he was shot dead by other terrorists,” the army chief said.
Security forces killed all six terrorists believed to be Pakistanis.