The Army officer’s petition claimed that the firing, which took place on January 27, was undertaken to control “a savage and violent mob engaged in terrorist activity” and that the FIR violated the fundamental rights of his son. The Army officer added that the plea was submitted “for protecting the morale of the soldiers of Indian Army, who are facing all odds in performance of their bonafide duties and laying their lives in the line of duty, to uphold the dignity of the Indian flag”.
The Jammu-Kashmir Police had lodged an FIR under Section 302 (murder charge) against the Army personnel and his unit for opening fire on a group of stone-pelting mob in Ganovpora village in Shopian. While two persons were killed on the spot, a third succumbed to his injuries later. The incident prompted Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to order a probe into the killings.
The petition, which was filed through advocate Aishwarya Bhati, said, “The petitioner is constrained to file the present writ petition for quashing of the FIR… in view of the extremely hostile situation on the ground, whereby an FIR has been registered by the local police against the son of the petitioner, who is a service Army officer and was performing his bonafide duties…”
“The manner in which the lodging of the FIR has been portrayed and projected by the political leadership and administrative higher-ups of the state, reflects the extremely hostile atmosphere in the state,” the petition read.
“The unruly behaviour of the unlawful assembly reached its peak when they got hold of a Junior Commissioned Officer and was in the process of lynching him to death. It was at this moment that warning shots were fired at the unlawful assembly which, as per the said terms of engagement, is the last resort to be taken before opening fire. The unlawful assembly again refused to spare the life of the Junior Commissioned Officer and, therefore, fire was lawfully opened on the unlawful assembly with an aim to disperse the violent mob and protect govt servants and property,” the petition mentioned.
On Sunday, former chief of Army Staff, General (retd) V P Malik extended his support to the Army officer and demanded the withdrawal of the FIR, stating that a soldier has the right to defend himself. The former Army chief termed the J&K police’s decision to book Major Aditya Kumar as “totally uncalled for and wrong”, as the FIR was lodged without any inquiry into the incident.
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission ordered the Union Defence Secretary to submit a “factual report” from the Union Ministry of Defence, within four weeks, to know the situation and steps taken by the Centre. The directive came following a complaint from three children of army officers against the stone pelting incident. The complainants said they were disturbed by the assaults by unruly and disruptive mob on security forces.
“NHRC has taken cognizance of a complaint requesting its intervention for an appropriate enquiry in the recent incident of stone pelting and assault by an unruly and disruptive mob on the Army personnel in the Shopian district of Jammu & Kashmir on the 27th January, 2018. Raising the issue of the safety of soldiers and officers of the Indian Army, deployed in encounter insurgency areas in Jammu & Kashmir and other states, the complaint sought to draw the attention of the Commission to the innumerable and frequent instances of violation of human rights of the army personnel, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir,” NHRC said in an official statement.