The 8 January beheading of an Indian soldier and the mutilation of another at the Line of Control (LoC) took place soon after a change of command. The 2011 beheadings in Kupwara also took place during a change of command.

Major General V.P. Singh took over as the General Officer Commanding (GoC) of the volatile 25 Div of the Indian Army, located in Rajouri, on 1 January 2013, replacing Maj Gen K.H. Singh. The incident took place in Poonch’s Mendhar sector, which comes under the command and control of 25 Div.

A lieutenant general from the Indian Army told this newspaper, “Generally, most such attacks take place during a change of command, as the incoming commander is still in the process of understanding things. The enemy considers this to be a ‘soft’ time to attack his soldiers. It also wants to test the new commander.”

The 1 August 2011 beheadings of Indian soldiers took place during the handing-taking over between two Army units at the LoC. At the time, Havildar Jaipal Adhikari and Lance Naik Devender Singh, both from 20 Kumaon and two more from 19 Rajput were beheaded at the border in the Indian Army’s 28 Div in Kupwara, an area infested with militancy. Pakistan’s Border Action Team stormed into 19 Rajput battalion, while the handing-taking over ceremony was going on between 19 Rajput and 20 Kumaon, and beheaded four Indian soldiers and took their heads along with them to the other side.

However, a former Northern Army Commander told this newspaper, “Too much should not be read into this, as it could be coincidental also.” Former Army chief V.P. Malik told this newspaper, “They are experienced commanders, doesn’t really matter who gets posted where, when and as what.”

Maj Gen V.P. Singh went to Rajouri from Delhi, where he was posted in the Military Secretariat Branch.

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