Maj Aditya summoned by Police for interrogation
‘Shopian double murder’ case: No counter-FIR filed by Army
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU: Unfazed by criticism of top Army commanders and the BJP maverick Subramanian Swamy’s threat to terminate Mehbooba Mufti’s government, the Jammu and Kashmir Police have summoned Major Aditya of 10-Garhwal for questioning in the shootout that left three young civilians – allegedly stone pelters – dead and several others injured at Ganowpora, Shopian, on January 27.
Authoritative sources revealed to STATE TIMES that the Investigating Officer of case FIR No: 26 of 2018 dated January 27, 2018, filed at Keegam Police Post of Police Station Shopian, on Tuesday wrote a letter to Balpora-based Commander of Sector-12 of Army, Brigadier Harbir Singh, asking him to produce Major Aditya and other personnel of the unit of 10-Garhwal for recording of their statement.
Copy of the communication has been addressed to the battalion’s G-1 officer stationed at Balpora.
Sources said that Maj Aditya, who was the only accused mentioned by name in the FIR, has been called by name for questioning as he alone could reveal the identity of the personnel who were part of the convoy and those who opened fire.
“This has been done to cut short a lengthy process. Had he not been named, it would have taken the Police five years to ascertain the identities of the personnel who opened fire. During the investigation, it will become clear whether the Army’s action was appropriate and in self-defence as claimed by the Army or disproportionate and unprovoked as alleged by the residents”, said an officer.
[box fontsize=”14″ radius=”5″]Army/TV channels claim counter FIR–police terms it as Army statement
In the backdrop of the Army and TV channels claiming that a counter FIR has been filed in the Shopian firing case, the police has added a new dimension by underplaying it just as a statement. Police says, “The Army had submitted a written statement of its version of the clash at Ganowpora. We have received it and appended it to the FIR. We have registered only one FIR (26 of 2018).” Even as a news agency on Wednesday reported that the Army had filed a counter-FIR against the stone pelters who attacked the troops, Additional Director General of Police incharge Kashmir zone, Munir Khan, asserted that no FIR had been filed by the security forces.
Khan told STATE TIMES that the Army had submitted a written statement of its version of the clash at Ganowpora.
“We have received it and appended it to the FIR. It is not an FIR. There can be ten versions to an incident but not ten FIRs. Those who call it FIR have no knowledge of the procedure of law and Police investigation. We have registered only one FIR (26 of 2018) and the I.O. will proceed further as per Criminal Procedure Code. After recording statements of different sides, the I.O. will collect circumstantial and scientific evidences. If the charges are established, we will file the challan. If not, the I.O. will close it as not admitted”, Khan said.
Asked why the I.O. has summoned an army officer by name, Khan said that he was only completing his procedural formalities. “Everybody related to that particular incident has to appear before the I.O., record a statement and answer the questions”, Khan said.
However, PTI reports, the Army has filed a counter-FIR in response to the one lodged by the Jammu and Kashmir police over the killing of two civilians in Shopian district.
On January 27, two youths were killed when Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in the Ganowpora area of Shopian, prompting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to order an inquiry into the incident.
Police had on Sunday filed an FIR under Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code against the personnel of 10, Garhwal unit, of the Army. A Major, who led the Army personnel at the time of the incident, was also named in the FIR.
The Army claims it opened fire on the crowd in self-defence and in the face of the “ultimate provocation”, after seven of its personnel were injured.
A defence spokesman had said that the troops resorted to firing when a mob tried to lynch a junior commissioned officer and snatch his service weapon.
“An Army administration convoy was passing through Ganowpora when it came under unprovoked and intense stone- pelting by a group of 100-120 stone-pelters. Within no time, their number swelled to 200-250 persons,” the spokesperson said.
The PDP-BJP coalition in J&K is in turmoil after Mufti defended the police action and refused to cave in to the saffron party’s demands for immediate withdrawal of the FIR.
According to the Police sources, a patrol of Rashtriya Rifles 44th Battalion had visited Ganowpora in the morning on January 27, when remembrance ceremony of a militant killed on January 24 was being observed, and asked the residents to remove some banners of militants and a black ISIS flag from anterior of a house. Residents resisted and resorted to slogan shouting and stone pelting. Troops retreated to their camp at Balpora, on outskirts of the district headquarters of Shopian.
Late in the afternoon, an administrative convoy of 13 non-bulletproof vehicles of 10-Garhwal, which is under transfer to Kupwara and currently being replaced by units of 23-Para, departed from the unit’s Balpora camp for another camp situated at Maspora. As the convoy began passing through Ganowpora, it found barriers on the road created possibly by the residents with stones and timber logs. While the troops got down to clear the road, crowds resorted to heavy stone pelting and engaged them in alleys. It was on this occasion that a Subedar was hit in his head and fell unconscious. Four of six vehicles of the convoy were extensively damaged.
According to the reports gathered by the Police from its sources, as also the Army version appended to the FIR on Wednesday, troops opened fire in which two youths got killed and one of the critically injured youths subsequently died at a hospital. On the public outcry, Police filed a matter of murder and attempted murder against the 10-Garhwal unit headed by Maj Aditya.
The injured JCO was rushed to Army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar for treatment where he is reportedly recovering.