Soldiers told to ‘Inform Police, Army Units’ before heading home

Day after a 22-year-old Army officer was abducted and later killed by suspected militants in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, the Army on Thursday directed its soldiers hailing from the Valley to strictly “adhere to set guidelines” and “inform concerned Army units before going to home on leave.”
Lieutenant Umar Fayaz was found dead at Harmain village in Shopian district on Wednesday. He had visited his home on leave to attend the marriage ceremony of his cousin. The slain Army officer was posted in Akhnoor area of Jammu region.
Police sources said there are strict guidelines in place wherein an officer supposed to go on leave must inform the concerned police station and the army unit about his visit. “The slain soldier had neither informed the police nor the Army post in his village,” they said.
An Army officer said given the “sensitivities” in south Kashmir districts and the killing of young army officer, the soldiers belonging to the Valley have been “asked to follow the set rules properly.”
“An in-house direction has gone to all heads of Army units across the State to ensure that no soldier/officer leaves his unit until there is a proper clearance from the police station of his area and also from the Army unit,” the officer added.
Another Army officer, posted in South Kashmir, said there are proper guidelines and rules for a soldier, who applies for leave, to go home on vacations, or to attend some family function. “But over the past few years, none has been following the rules properly,” he said, wishing not to be named. “Now the killing of the young officer has brought back the focus on these rules and regulations.”
He said the killing of Fayaz could have been avoided had the concerned army unit been informed by him.
Sources in the Army said among the Kashmiri soldiers, majority belong to south Kashmir districts. “There is every likelihood that the Army may modify the guidelines for the Kashmiri soldiers, who have applied for leave in the wake of volatile situation in South Kashmir where militancy is on the rise,” they said.

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