The Armymen who left two boys dead and two injured at Chattergam on November 3 fired 118 rounds at their Maruti car, with 28 bullets hitting the vehicle. FIR No. 231 registered at Chadoora Police Station, making out a case of murder, says the soldiers fired with the “criminal intent to kill”.
A joint report by the Budgam district magistrate and its senior superintendent of police, submitted to the government and Election Commission, also contradicts the Army’s version that the car hadn’t stopped at two of its checkpoints and rammed into a third, causing its troops to open fire.
“As per eyewitnesses, the Maruti 800 was stopped by the Army naka party but skidded off the road and hit a pole on the side. In the meantime, one of the detachments of the naka party fired upon the vehicle,” says the report.
It adds that the five boys were travelling from Chattergam towards Nowgam on a “main road” at around 5.15 pm when their car was fired upon by 53 Rashtriya Rifles.
In its preliminary investigation, the Budgam police has found that 11 soldiers of 53 Rashtriya Rifles were involved in the incident, and that the naka party of the unit had no information indicating that militants may be moving in a car on that stretch of the road. The bullets were fired from a distance of 8 to 9 metres.
“There was a general input of a possible militant movement in the area but nothing specific. Such general inputs are very common,’’ a source said.
Sources in the police also said Armymen took the injured boys out of the Maruti soon after the firing and sent them to the 92 Base Hospital in their own vehicle even before the police team arrived.
The Army has moved out troops of 53 RR from the area and replaced them with another battalion. However, police that have not yet sought custody of the accused for interrogation said it doesn’t expect much cooperation from the force.
“It is highly unlikely the Army will hand over the accused to us for investigation even though they have shown an intent to act against their men this time around,” said a senior police officer.