Jammu & Kashmir: Punish Gulty Soldiers, Govt To Delhi

13 March 2009
Greater Kashmir

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir government has forwarded the inquiry report, indicting army for killing two civilians in Bomai, Sopur, last month, to the [Indian] ministry of Defence, seeking appropriate action against the guilty [Indian]soldiers. Under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the state government is unable to punish the guilty army soldiers and paramilitary troopers as they enjoy impunity for their actions in Jammu and Kashmir. The report was submitted on March 4 to the government by the deputy commissioner, Varmul, Baseer Ahmad Khan, who had been appointed by the government to hold the inquiry soon after two youth were killed by the Army’s 22 Rashtriya Rifles at Bomai on February 21. After being examined by the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, the report has been sent to the Defence ministry on Thursday seeking “exemplary punishment” to two guilty soldiers, a highly placed source told Greater Kashmir. Muhammad Amin Tantray and Javid Ahmed Dar were killed when troops of 22 Rashtriya Rifles opened fire on devotees at Bomai village. The incident triggered massive protests across the valley, with the chief minister ordering a magisterial inquiry into the incident. He had set a 15-day deadline to complete the inquiry. In its communication, the source said, the government has sought implementation of the prime-minister’s promise of “zero tolerance on human rights violations” in letter and spirit and appropriate action against the soldiers. “It is a clear case of human rights violation,” the chief minister, according to the source, has written in his observation about the report. The report rubbished the army’s claim that the two civilians were killed in “crossfire” and mentioned that the soldiers did not follow the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) during the incident. It said the soldiers opened fire at the civilians and the bullet wounds were above the chest level, indicating that they opened fire with the intention to kill the civilians. The source said the chief minister has asked the Defence ministry to direct the troops to follow the SOP in letter and spirit to avoid incidents of human rights violation. The source said the matter has only been taken up with the ministry of Defence. The report has been sent only to the ministry and not the head of the army Corps based in Kashmir. “At an appropriate level, the corps commander has been asked to initiate action at his own level, but given the sensitivity of the matter, the report has only been sent to the ministry of Defence,” the source said, adding the chief minister was committed to see the guilty being punished. The chief minister is likely to meet the Defence minister, A K Antony, in this connection sometime this month