The army personnel in Kashmir have been asked to take "extra precautions" and strictly follow the "existing standard operating procedure" while on leave, so that they don't become "easy prey for the militants".
Although the instructions are for all soldiers in Kashmir,those from the southern districts of the Valley have particularly been directedto "follow the guidelines in true letter and spirit."
The fresh directions have come in the wake of killing of aterritorial armyman who had proceeded on leave to celebrate Eid with his familyat Sadoora village in south Kashmir's Anantnag district. Identified as Manzoor Ahmed, the armyman waskilled by unidentified gunmen, while he was entering the cowshed in thepremises of his house on June 6.
A senior defence official said that though there is a strictSoP for the soldiers intending to go on leave to celebrate festivals like Eid,Holi, Baisakhi or Christmas, fresh directions have been issued given thesensitivities involved in southern districts of Kashmir.
While reiterating the existing guidelines, the official saidthat every soldier, whose leave is sanctioned, must deposit his service riflewith the unit incharge before proceeding on leave.
"The soldiers must inform in advance the army units in theirrespective villages and districts. They should also remain in touch with theconcerned police stations and apprise their respective police stationsimmediately about their arrival and departure," he said.
The official said that as per the guidelines, every soldieron leave must immediately inform the police station or the army unit concernedin case of facing any threat or intimidation in any form. "Same should apply,if a soldier notices suspicious notice around his house," the defence official,requesting anonymity said.
Despite the tough guidelines for the soldiers, militantshave been able to make the army men on leave as "soft targets."
In June 2017, Lieutenant Umar Fayaz, who had gone home insouthern district of Shopian to attend marriage ceremony of his relative, wasfirst abducted and then killed.
Similarly, another soldier, Aurangzeb was killed bymilitants in June 2018 in Pulwama district of south Kashmir while as armymanMuhammad RafiqYatoo of Warpora, Sopore of JAKLI was killed in April 2019. Aurangzeb, a resident of Poonch district ofJammu was kidnapped and later killed in Pulwama district.
"Yes some incidentshave happened in which our soldiers were targeted when they were unarmed, butthose behind such killings were eliminated in various encounters since 2017," asenior army officer said.