With the death toll in Shopian firing rising to three on Wednesday, a top Indian Army officer said the Jammu and Kashmir police should have filed a “generic FIR” in the case instead of “prematurely” naming a Major as an accused.
The police had lodged an FIR against the Army, and a major of the 10 Garhwal Unit for murder, attempt to murder, and endangering life or personal safety, after two civilians— Javaid Ahmad and Suhail Lone— were killed in Army firing in Ganowpora village of Shopian district on Saturday.
10 more people had sustained injuries in the firing, one of whom Rayees Ahmad succumbed at a hospital in Srinagar on Wednesday.
Local residents accused the Army of indiscriminate firing after they resisted attempts to remove banners of slain Hizbul Mujahideen militants. The Army claims it fired in self-defence.
Speaking to reporters in Pune, the Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Devraj Anbu said that the firing was done in self-defence and investigation will bring out the truth. He said that the Army responded only after being “provoked to the ultimate”.
“The investigation is yet to commence and I think all the facts will come out in the investigation. Notwithstanding, what the state government has done, we have done our own inquiry. We are very clear that we have responded when we were provoked to the ultimate. It was in self-defence and protection of the property of the government. And in coming days, the investigation will prove for itself,” he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
When asked about the claims one Army personnel named in the FIR was not present at the spot when the incident took place, the General officer said, “That is an unfortunate thing. Probably in such situation, a generic FIR should have been filed to come to a conclusion to what exactly happened. But in this case, I think they have prematurely put a name, of an individual. I am sure when they investigate, the truth will come out.” He also added that the case has had no impact on the morale of the troops. “From ground commanders to the top, we are very clear. We are professional Army and we go out and do our duty.”
Ruling BJP legislators have held protests in the Assembly and demanded the withdrawal of the FIR lodged against the army personnel, adding that a fresh FIR should be lodged without naming any army personnel.
One BJP legislator said “serious charges” had been levelled against the army in the FIR, which appeared that it had been “done under pressure,” prompting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to say that the case will be taken to its logical conclusion.