SRI NAGAR: In one of the quickest probes carried out by the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir, the Army has indicted nine of its personnel, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO)over the recent killing of two youths in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
The Army had launched a probe into the killing after its men fired at a Maruti car in the area on November 3, killing two teenagers and injuring two others. It had claimed that the vehicle had not stopped at the check-point.
The killings had evoked massive protests, prompting the Army’s Northern Command chief, Lt Gen D S Hooda to own up responsibility for the killings and order a speedy inquiry into the incident.
Sources said the Army has completed its probe into the killings. “70 witnesses, including civilians and Army men, recorded their statements before the inquiry officer. 15 Army men, who were part of the patrol party that fired on the youth, were probed for their involvement in the incident and nine of them, including a JCO, have been indicted on the basis of evidences against them,” they said.
Sources said the inquiry has indicted nine soldiers and found total failure of command by the officer in-charge of the Army column during the incident.
After the firing incident, all the soldiers of the patrol party were detached from the parent unit. Sources said the file has been sent for Lt Gen Hooda’s approval.
“The presiding officer has given his recommendations and all the proceedings will be examined by legal branch of Northern Command,” they said.
They said it was too early to say what kind of punishment would be awarded to the men. “They can be given harsh punishment or exonerated as per the evidence.”
This is the second major judgment by the Army against its men and officers in the Valley this month.
On November 13, an Army court had convicted six of its men, including two officers, and awarded them life imprisonment for staging a fake encounter at Machil in April 2010, which had claimed the lives of three innocent civilians.
The incident had triggered riots in the Valley and over 120 civilians died in the firing by the police and security forces.