Father Of Army Officer Accused In Kashmir Civilian Deaths Goes To Supreme Court

The Major-rank officer and his unit are accused of opening fire on a group of protesters in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian, in which three men had died. The army said the soldiers were vastly outnumbered by the stone-throwing mob, and opened fire only after the crowd disregarded repeated warnings.

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Father Of Army Officer Accused In Kashmir Civilian Deaths Goes To Supreme Court

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3 people had died in the firing which escalated tensions and protests in the Kashmir valley (File)

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Police case violates the officer's fundamental rights, the petition said
  2. The petition said the army has special powers in Jammu and Kashmir
  3. It asked that Centre be told to protect rights of soldiers serving in J&K
The father of the army officer named in the case involving the deaths of three men in Jammu and Kashmir's Shopian, has approached the Supreme Court. The petition by Lt Colonel Karamveer Singh, a serving officer of the Indian army, challenges the police case and says it violates the fundamental rights of his son, Major Aditya Singh. The petition also appeals that the Centre be asked to protect the rights of soldiers working in Jammu and Kashmir.

The contentious police case -- which has now turned a political controversy - had named Major Aditya Singh and his Garhwal Regiment. They were accused of opening fire on a group of protesters, in which three men had died. The army said the soldiers were vastly outnumbered by the stone-throwing mob, and opened fire only after the crowd disregarded repeated warnings.

The petition said the police cannot file cases against army officers in Jammu and Kashmir, since AFSPA (the Armed Forces' Special Powers Act) is operating in the state. The law gives special powers to the army in insurgency-hit areas. The police registered an FIR against the Major "knowing fully well that he was not present at the place of the incident and that the personnel so acting were doing lawful military duty," the petition read.

"My son was doing his duty to protect the soldiers who were being stoned and about to be lynched... He carried out the orders of his superiors," it further said.

In his petition, Lt Colonel Singh said he was compelled to move the Supreme Court directly because of the "extremely hostile situation in Jammu and Kashmir". This, the petition said, became evident in the "manner of lodging the FIR" and the way it was projected by the state's political and administration heads. It appealed that the investigation be carried out in another state with independent and unbiased authorities.

The police case was filed as the shooting on the protesters triggered uproar in the state and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said it would be taken to its "logical conclusion".

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But trouble started after it became known that the police had named the officer and his unit instead of filing a generic First Information Report that does not name anyone. The BJP, which is part of the ruling alliance in the state, raised strong objections. Ms Mufti said the action was taken after consultations with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The army has already filed a case after conducting its internal inquiries. It said the soldiers had acted in "self-defence" after extreme provocation.

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