The father of an Army major named in the FIR by the Jammu and Kashmir police in the firing incident in Shopian has moved the top court seeking to quash it. The matter has been listed in the Supreme Court for hearing tomorrow. The matter relates to state police lodging an FIR charging Major Aditya Kumar and other personnel of the 10 Garhwal Rifles battalion for murder and attempt to murder over the death of three civilians. Major Aditya, in his plea, has said that lodging of the FIR would hurt the morale of Army personnel in discharging their duty.
In his plea filed before the top court through his advocate, Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh has pointed out that the incident relates to an Army convoy which was on military duty in an area which is under the AFSPA. The petitioner further said that the army convoy was isolated by an “unruly and deranged” mob which was pelting stones and damaging military vehicles. The naming of his son in the FIR, the petitioner said, was “wrong and arbitrary”.
Detailing the situation relating to the incident, the plea further said that matters came to a pass when the “unlawful assembly” got hold of a Junior Commissioned Officer and were going to lynch him to death. It was then that warning shots were fired in a bid to disperse the crowd and protect damage to public property.
In a bid to demonstrate the situation in which the Army was working in the state, the Major’s father cited last year’s incident when DSP Mohd Ayub Pandith was lynched to death by a mob. “The petitioner is constrained to file the present writ petition for quashing of FIR, directly before this court in view of the extremely hostile situation on the ground, whereby an FIR has been registered by local police against the son of the petitioner, who is a service Army officer and was performing bonafide duties as directed by the Union of India,” it read.
The petitioner further said that the manner in which the FIR has been projected by the political leadership and the administration in the state was evidence to the hostile conditions that prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir. He also cited this atmosphere as the reason why he was forced to approach the top court “under Article 32 of the Constitution for protection of Fundamental Rights of his son and himself, enshrined under Article 14 & 21 of the Constitution.”
On January 27, two civilians were killed and one injured after the Army fired at a mob after falling under its attack at Shopian’s Ganowpora village. The third injured later succumbed to injuries. While the police maintained that several people were injured after the Army fired a few shots after its convoy came under attack by stone-pelters while passing through Ganovpora village in Shopian, a defence spokesman said the troops opened fire when a mob tried to lynch a junior commissioned officer and snatch his service weapon.
The Army has maintained that its soldiers were forced to open controlled fire at the crowd in self-defence after it fell under attack by a stone-pelting mob. “The soldiers responded after being provoked to the ultimate. It was an act in self-defence and to protect government property,” Northern Command chief Lt-General Devraj Anbu had said earlier.
The Army has also taken strong exception to the state police putting the name of Major Aditya in the FIR. The Army said that the police should have restricted itself to filing a generic FIR. Other than the FIR filed by the state police, the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP government has also constituted a magisterial inquiry into the incident.
Chief Minister Mufti’s stand has angered its alliance partner BJP at the Centre and sparked a fierce war of words. The Chief Minister, however, has refused to buck under the pressure and reiterated that the FIR by the state [police shall be taken to its “logical conclusion”.