SRINAGAR: The two main political parties of Jammu and Kashmir - National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party - reacted vehemently against the Shaurya Chakra awarded to Major Aditya Kumar of the 10 Garhwal Rifles, whose unit had fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village of south Kashmir's Shopian district on January 27 this year, killing three people.
After the local police filed an FIR against him, his father Lt Col Karamveer Singh moved the Supreme Court, which restrained the Jammu and Kashmir Police from taking any coercive steps against army officers, including Major Aditya.
President Ram Nath Kovind, who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, on Tuesday approved 131 Gallantry Awards to military and paramilitary forces which include one Kirti Chakra, 20 Shaurya Chakras, three Bar to Sena Medals, 93 Sena Medals, 11 Nao Sena Medals and three Vayu Sena Medals.
Honouring Major Aditya with the Shaurya Chakra would further alienate the people of Kashmir, PDP chief spokesman Rafi Ahmed Mir told The New Indian Express.
"If fingers are being raised against an officer for committing human rights violations, then the officer should not have been awarded. Normally it should not have happened. The charges against him should be taken care of," he said. "It is unfortunate that when FIR was registered against Major Aditya, the case went to Supreme Court and the apex court stayed the proceedings in the FIR. This adds to the situation that is messy here and fuels further anger among the people. Maybe he deserves the award, but his act (in which three civilians were killed) was condemned widely and the army should have taken care of it before honouring him."
The National Conference provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani concurred, saying "It is better to avoid these kind of actions so that people also feel wanted and don't consider themselves unwanted.”
Apart from Major Kumar, Rifleman Aurangzeb, of the 4 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, who was abducted and murdered by terrorists in June this year when he was travelling home to celebrate Eid, received the Shaurya Chakra posthumously. Though he received it for an earlier operation in Kashmir, sources said he had violated Standard Operating Procedures leading to his abduction and killing.
Last year, there was widespread outrage in Kashmir after Major Gogoi, who used a civilian as a human shield by tying him in front of an army vehicle and paraded him in over a dozen villages in Beerwah area of central Kashmir's Budgam district, was awarded the Army chief's commendation card.