Shopian deaths: SC puts FIR against Army major on stay
The SC has put on hold an FIR filed against Major Aditya Kumar of 10 Garhwal Rifles over civilian deaths in Shopian last month. It sought responses from the Center and J&K government within two weeks. No coercive action is to be initiated against Kumar. J&K police had lodged a complaint against the team under Section 302 (murder) for opening fire on stone-pelters.
On January 29, J&K Police charged the 10th Garhwal Unit of the Indian Army with murder over the killing of two civilians in Shopian. The army claims it opened fire after a mob attacked a convoy at Ganaupura Chowk, tried to set vehicles ablaze and lynch a jawan. But locals say they fired after an altercation with villagers. Meanwhile, another injured youth is battling for life.
Villagers claimed security personnel were attempting to remove posters of a slain militant on Saturday when an altercation ensued and they opened fire. Javed Bhat and Suhail Lone, both in their 20s, were killed. The FIR filed under Sections 302, 307 and 336 has charged the army for murder, attempt to murder and endangering life. The Shopian deputy commissioner is probing the incident.
The father of Kumar has moved the SC seeking quashing of the FIR against him. His son wasn't at the spot when the incident happened, and authorities had named him "in an arbitrary exercise of power," he claimed. Soldiers' rights should be protected, he argued. The Army too has maintained that Kumar was leading the "administrative convoy" and wasn't at the firing site.
This has taken the number of civilian deaths in Army firing in January to four. On January 9, a 22-year-old youth died, and another 17-year-old on January 24, when security personnel opened fire on protesters. In 2017, according to police, 24 civilians were killed in gunbattles between security forces and militants. A separatist strike after the recent deaths disrupted normal life in the Valley.