A day after three villagers were reportedly killed in Gaya following a mortar shell explosion, the Army officially denied it and said no firing took place at the adjacent Deuri Dumri field firing ranges. “The incident has been misreported by certain sections of the media that deaths occurred due to Army’s mortar firing,” an Army PRO said in an official statement.

Media reports quoted local police to narrate that the mortar shell exploded outside the firing range in the early hours of Wednesday. According to Senior Superintendent of Police, Gaya, Ashish Bharti, who was quoted by the local media, six people were injured after the mortar shell fell and exploded in Gularved village, which comes under Barachatti police station of the district. Three of them died undergoing treatment at Anugraha Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital, the senior officer is reported to have told reporters.

No mortar firing clearance

The Army, while expressing condolences to the families of those who died and sustained injuries, said it will extend all support for investigating the cause of tragedy. “The incident has been miss-reported by certain sections of the media that the deaths occurred due to Army’s mortar firing. It is clarified that on March 8, 2023, no firing of mortars was carried out at the Deuri Dumri field firing ranges,” the Army PRO based at Prayagraj stated. It is further clarified, he pointed out, that all clearances, on a notified firing range are obtained on a daily basis prior to the firing from local civil administration and police. No such clearance was asked for mortar firing on Wednesday, he clarified.

Unauthorised collection of mortar blind shell

In the detailed rebuttal, the Army also insisted that it has been noted that certain sections of the social media have been showing a circular shaped hole in the ground indicating it as the point of impact of the mortar shell. “Mortar shell detonation on impact do not leave such signatures. Ostensibly, this could be a case of unauthorised collection of a mortar blind shell which fell in the designated impact area on an earlier date, and efforts to dismantle it to extract scrap metal on March 8, 2023 for sale. This could have triggered the detonation, causing the unfortunate accident,” the PRO stated.

Requesting to abstain from such fatal attempts, the Army PRO stated that the unfortunate loss of lives and injuries, once again highlighted the dangers posed by entry into the impact area of field firing ranges, and of the dangerous practice of unauthorised collecting of scrap and even blind rounds from the impact area, for sale, which results in such tragedies.