Lt Col Karamveer Singh has the nation’s support in his appeal to quash the FIR against his son.
As a rule, we are against judicial overreach, especially in recent times when certain matters which ought to have remained firmly in the Executive domain were taken up by the judiciary. Equally, we are entirely in favor of the Constitutionally sanctioned powers of judicial review,especially when the Executive, in this case the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and the police-civil administration she controls, have prime facie been grossly unjust in naming a Major of the Indian Army in the FIR filed on the Shopian incident in which three residents of a village in this South Kashmir district lost their lives when the Army opened fire in self-defense to disperse a stone-pelting mob. The father of the army officer named, who is himself a serving officer and a veteran of the Kargil conflict of 1999, Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh, has obviously had enough of this politically motivated degradation of the morale of the Indian Army operating in a very challenging environment and moved the Supreme Court asking for the FIR against his son, who was leading the convoy that was waylaid, to be quashed as it was a wrong and arbitrary act of a hostile political-administrative establishment. That is both accurate and apt. Bravo.
The chain of events that led to the firing in Shopian on January 27 are well-established, have been comment- ed upon in this newspaper in some detail, and do not need repetition. Suffice it to say that when an enraged mob of between 200 and 300 people were pelting stones at an army convoy passing through their village which had not engaged them in any way managed to surrounded a couple of vehicles which had got separated from the main body of the convoy and attempted to cause physical harm to the army personnel who tried to pacify them, there is a clear case for self- defense. Naturally, any loss life is tragic and we are sure there are two sides to the story though we are in no doubt which one is true.
However, in the interests of justice not only being done but also being seen to be done, the Indian Army itself, despite its own inquiry having cleared the unit of using disproportionate force, welcomed a police investigation into the incident obviously assuming both sides of the sequence of events would be heard. (And unlike the widely held perception of the Jammu and Kashmir police and civil administration as compromised and incompetent as was evidenced a couple of days ago in the springing of a terrorist from a Srinagar hospital, the Indian Army takes its commitment to established SOPs and robust internal mechanisms very seriously) But the manner in which the State police and administrative top brass, on directions of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, not only went entirely by the version of leading lights of the stone-pelting mob in registering the FIR without bothering to take cognizance of the complaint filed by the Army, and then added insult to injury by actually naming the Major of the 10 Garhwal Rifles who was leading the convoy in the said FIR, was clearly malafide.
No country can expect its soldiers to do their duty even if it means laying their lives on the line on hostile internal security deployment when politics is played over their human rights and rules of engagement. The State Government in particular and political and community leaders from the Valley in general must also bear responsibility for being completely ineffective in ensuring zero-tolerance for non-democratic, violent and life-threatening so called ‘protests’ by stone pelters, which are used to provide cover to terrorists and impede security forces’ operations, despite the Army Chief’s fair warning in this regard.
It’s over to their Lordships.
Courtesy: The Pioneer