Searches On To Trace Missing Soldier in Budgam

Representational Photo

Srinagar- The Army and the police have launched a joint search for a soldier who went missing from his village in central Kashmir's Budgam district early this week, officials said on Wednesday.

Sameer Ahmad Malla of the Army's Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment went missing from his Lokipora village of Khag on Monday. He was visiting home on leave to be with his wife on the birth of their second child, the officials said.

He is currently posted in Jammu.

Malla was in the news four years ago when his role was investigated for allegedly driving his company commander Major Leetul Gogoi and a local girl to a hotel here, officials said.

Major Gogoi, who was in the centre of the 2017 "human shield" controversy, suffered the ignominy of reduction in seniority and exit from Kashmir for "fraternising" with a local woman in 2018.

A court martial had held Gogoi and his driver Malla guilty on two counts -- "fraternising" with a local woman in spite of instructions to the contrary and "being away from the place of duty while in operational area".

The officials said Malla had last talked to his mother from his mobile phone and informed her that his phone battery was running low and in case it gets switched off, he will get in touch with her.

Malla's phone is switched off and his whereabouts are not known, the officials said, adding that his family told them that he had gone out to visit a neighbouring village and did not return.

His family suspected that he might have been abducted by militants, a claim that was not ruled out by security agencies.

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