Friday, November 02, 2007

Army, police fire over each other’s shoulder

Army, police fire over each other’s shoulder

K.V. Subramanya and M. Raghava

CRPF and BSF also use the Iblur Firing Range

Army says no letter received from police in 18 months

BANGALORE: Even as the police are attempting to trace the origin of the stray bullet that hit software engineer Niharika Jeena on Koramangala Inner Ring Road on Friday night, ballistic experts have concluded that bullets which hit three people in similar incidents earlier were of prohibited bore.

Sources in the police told The Hindu on Wednesday that ballistic experts from the State Forensic Science Laboratory have submitted reports that the three spent bullets were of prohibited bore, usually used by Defence personnel.

Satyajith Kumar Singh, Thomas and Mercy Andrew were hit by stray bullets, suspected to have been fired from the Army’s Iblur Firing Range, in incidents reported in July 2003, April 2005 and April 2007.

The police had sent the ballistic examination reports and written several times to the Army asking it to provide details of the firing practice held on those dates. The police had asked the Army to hand over the weapons used for firing and the live bullets used in these weapons for ballistic examination. But the Army officials had not responded so far, the sources said.

Karnataka and Kerala Sub-Area Commander Brigadier Clement Samuel told The Hindu over phone from Belgaum that there was no correspondence between the Army and the police on this subject since he assumed office 18 months ago. In the case of the latest incident, the Army had refuted that the bullet which hit Ms. Jeena was fired from their weapon. Army officials told the police that paramilitary agencies such as Central Reserve Police Force and Border Security Force use the Iblur Firing Range for firing practice.

Meanwhile, the Indian Air Force (IAF) spokesperson, Wing Commander Raghunath said that on October 26, the firing range was allotted to IAF for practice. But he would be able to confirm the timings for which the IAF had used the range only on Thursday, he said.

Army authorities assured the police that they will check whether any of the paramilitary forces held firing practice Friday night, the police sources said. Reacting to the Army claim that policemen were present during firing practice, a senior police official who did not want to be named told The Hindu that it was not the case.

Usually, the Army informs the Koramangala police station in writing about firing practice sessions and obtains an acknowledgement, the official said, and no police personnel were allowed on defence land.


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