Four soldiers were killed in a pre-dawn shooting incident at a military base in Bathinda, a city in the northern state of Punjab in India. The incident occurred on Wednesday, around 4:35 am, and the base remains sealed off as joint investigations with Punjab Police are underway to establish the facts of the case. According to a senior police official in Punjab, the incident was not a terror attack and took place in a canteen. The Indian Defense Ministry and state police have not yet commented on the matter.
Tensions in Punjab have been high following the local resurgence of a separatist movement, and authorities have been searching for Amritpal Singh, a firebrand Sikh separatist preacher who has been rallying support for the creation of Khalistan, a separate Sikh homeland. The struggle for Khalistan led to deadly violence in Punjab in the 1980s and 1990s. Singh remains at large despite a huge police dragnet involving thousands of police officers and a statewide internet shutdown that lasted for several days.
An unknown number of shooters are still at large at the military base, and a search operation is continuing. The base has been sealed off, and security personnel have been deployed outside the boundary wall. The army statement did not mention the circumstances or other details about who was responsible. However, the army has said that “all aspects including the possible case of involvement of an (assault) rifle along with 28 rounds reported missing two days back are being ascertained.” No other injuries or damage to property were reported.
The incident has raised concerns about the security situation in the region and the safety of military personnel stationed there. It remains to be seen what the joint investigation will uncover and whether any arrests will be made. The shooting is a reminder of the ongoing tensions in the region and the need for authorities to remain vigilant and take steps to ensure the safety and security of the local population and military personnel.