Two days after Army personnel on patrol duty opened fire on a car, killing two teenagers in Chattergam village of Budgam district, the Army on Wednesday decided to shift the entire company of 53 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), comprising 125 soldiers, from the area.
The killings had triggered protests across Srinagar and nearby places, with locals demanding removal of the Army camp from the area as they had been involved in a similar killing two years ago.
A defence spokesperson told The Indian Express, “The company has been shifted from the area. We have also attached 16 soldiers who were part of the Army patrol and naka party to the location of the inquiry.”
The spokesperson said that the Deputy Commander of a neighbouring RR sector is conducting the inquiry and that he has been asked to complete the investigation at the earliest. Police have also filed a case against the unit.
Top Army officers, who did not want to be named, said the inquiry will focus on why standard operating procedures were not followed when the car in which the teenagers were travelling did not stop at the first signal. The inquiry officer will focus on why the Army personnel did not fire at the car tyres first instead of targeting the occupants.
This is the second such incident at Chattergam involving Army personnel from the same unit. In October 2012, Army men opened fire on a private Sumo, killing two soldiers of Territorial Army. Seven soldiers were travelling in the vehicle.
During investigations it was found that a patrolling party of the 53 RR asked the Sumo to stop but when it evaded the signal, the soldiers opened fire, resulting in injuries to the driver and two Army men. Later, the two soldiers, identified as Ghulam Ahmad Sheikh and Abdul Rouf, died in hospital. After the incident, the Army had ordered an inquiry, but the findings were never made public.
DIG Kashmir Afadul Muhtaba told The Indian Express that although the Army had ordered a court of inquiry into the 2012 case, “I have no information about the current status of that case.”