Army files counter-FIR, Def Min mum on CM’s claim
As controversy rages over the killing of three youths in the Shopian firing on January 27, the Army has filed a counter- FIR to present its version of the incident. Police had filed an FIR against a Major and some jawans on the same day and the cross- FIR was registered on January 28.
While the Army maintained it followed the standard operating procedure to deter the protesters, the Defence Ministry is silent on Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s claim in the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly on Monday that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave consent for filing of an FIR against Army men. The Chief Minister said in the Assembly that her Government had filed the FIR only after consulting the Defence Minister. “She (Sitharaman) told me that I should tale action if any carelessness or anything wrong has happened,’ Mehbooba told the Assembly..
Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has asked the Defence Minister to clarify her stand on Mehbooba’s statement in which she said, “I had brought the Shopian firing issue to notice of the Defence Minister and she said that if you feel that a crime has been committed, go ahead and take an action.”
“Wondering why even today the Defence Minister has not given a clarification. Do we tale her silence to mean yes. If it is, then it’s totally against party policies, sentiments of Indians and patriotism. If she doesn’t give a clarification by February 2, I will ask it in the House;’ said Swamy.
Earlier, Swamy tweeted, “Time for Ms. Sithararnan Defence Minister to clarify: was she accurately quoted by JK CM in the Assembly on giving OK to file FIR. Patriots are enraged and aghast at Mehbooba CM directing FIR filed against Army. But in J&K Assembly she says DefMinister okayed it!! True?”
While the Defence Ministry was tightlipped on Mehboabbas claim, Northern Command chief Lt General Devraj Anbu said in Pune that the Army’s internal probe has found that the soldiers were provoked to the ultimate and had acted in self-defence.
On naming the Major in the FIR, he said, “I think they have prematurely put the name of an individual:’ Police should have filed “a generic FIR”, which does not take names in such cases, he added.
The FIR filed by the State police names no accused but states that a company of 10 Garhwalled by Major Aditya was on its way for official duty when it was attacked by an unruly mob with stones.
Disclosing the fact about counter-FIR on Wednesday, Army officials said it will co- operate in the magisterial probe ordered by the State Government. In case, it is required the persons named in the FIR are to be questioned, the Army will give the necessary permission, they said. The Army personnel allegedly involved in the incident can either depose before the Magistrate in person or give written reply to a questionnaire prepared by the probe panel.
The officials said as per the norm followed by the Army in case of injury to its personnel during protests and damage to Government property a counter FIR is registered to present the Army version. In the Shopian case, at least seven jawans, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), were injured by stone pelting crowd. The counter-FIR was filed against unknown persons, they said.
Narrating the sequence of events, they said the Army fired on a stone-pelting mob at Ganaupura area of Shopian after an Army convoy passing through the area around 3 pm on Saturday last came under unprovoked and intense stone pelting by a group of about 100-200 stonepelters. Within in no time their numbers swelled to 200-250.
The crowd surrounded an isolated portion of the convoy consisting of four vehicles. They caused extensive damage to the vehicles and tried to set them on fire. A JCO with the convoy was hit on the head and fell unconscious suffering serious injuries. The mob tried to lynch the JeD and snatch his weapon, they said.
Violent crowd carne close and tried to set the vehicles on fire and considering the gravity of the situation, the Army was constrained to open fire in self defence to prevent lynching of the JCO, officials said. They also clarified the Major leading the convoy was at least 200 metres ahead and was not present at the incident spot. Seven Army men were injured an d extensive damage was caused to 11 vehicles.
This version is the gist of the cross FIR and the officials maintained that the Army also mentioned in the report that it followed the standard operating procedure to warn the protesters. They also said the cross FIR was filed in the same police station where police had registered the FIR under Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) against Army personnel.
By Opinion Express News Desk