Indian army holds soldiers to account over deaths

The deaths have help fuel regular separatist protests in Kashmir.
The Indian army has found an officer and two troopers accountable for "lapses" in the killing of two youths in Indian administered Kashmir.

“The high level army inquiry headed by a brigadier has been completed. The inquiry has held the junior commissioned officer (JCO) and two soldiers who were involved in the Bomai incident accountable for various lapses,” Indian defense spokesman Lt. Col. J.S.Brar told CNN. “The charges besides the failure to exercise desired command and control by the JCO also encompasses failure by the two soldiers to exercise restraint in the handling of weapons during the incident,” Brar said. “Disciplinary action against the three individuals has been ordered by the GOC (General Officer Commanding) which will commence with immediate effect.” The swift action by the army followed the state chief minister, Omar Abdullah’s persistent pressure on the Indian defense authorities to take action against their personnel for the killing in a bid to fulfill his pledge of “zero tolerance to human rights violations”.

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Indian administered Kashmir which is in the throes of a bloody separatist violence since 1989 has been the focus of various international and Indian human rights groups, who have been voicing concern over the rights violations in this conflict area. The action by the Indian army opens a new chapter to better its image and sends out signals to reiterate what the Indian defense spokesman here said, “to uphold the law of the land and zero tolerance against human rights violations.” The two youths were gunned down by an army patrol on February 21 this year while they were returning from a village festival in north Kashmir Bomai village, nearly 70 kms from Srinagar, the capital of Indian administered Kashmir, throwing the entire area in an unrelenting turmoil forcing the state government and the defense authorities to act against the guilty. Significantly the state chief minister Friday evening held a news conference to claim credit for the speedy action in the conduct of the Indian army’s court of inquiry and also promised relocation of the local army camp which he said was “causing inconvenience to the school going-girls and local population.” The Indian paramilitary, central reserve police force (CRPF) authorities yesterday took action against four of its personnel including, an officer, who were involved in the killing of a village carpenter in south Kashmir. Local police, who registered a case of murder against the paramilitary men, have now asked the CRPF to handover the guilty personnel for investigation. The village carpenter identified as Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Malik was killed inside his house in the Kheegam village Wednesday evening. Kashmir separatists have condemned the killings and accused the local elected government of “being helpless before the Indian security forces”. Friday afternoon saw protests by angry youth in parts of old capital city against the killing of the village carpenter. Police used bamboo sticks and tear gas shells to break up the pelting mobs. Kashmir inspector general of police, Dr. B.Srinivas told CNN that 80 people were detained during Friday’s protests which have become a routine post-Friday prayer affair in the capital city.