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Withdraw FIR against army in Shopian, Kashmir

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
By A Staff Reporter. Photograph by Azad Shrivastav

An army convoy of the 10 Garhwal unit was passing through the Ganovpora village in the Shopian district of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) when a mob of about 150 persons subjected it to intense stone-pelting. Soon the mob swelled to 250. The stone-pelters, who enjoy the patronage of Pakistan, then zeroed in on a junior commissioned officer at the tail end of the convoy with a view to isolate and lynch him. They also attempted to snatch his rifle. Seeing that the situation was going out of control, the army opened fire in self-defense in which three of the miscreants were killed.

The army was only performing its duty. Yet the government in J&K filed an FIR, against a Major of the army and the entire unit, under Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir. Code. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is not applicable to the state.

It is a matter of deep national concern that the actions of the armed forces performed in the course of duty and in defense of the nation are being questioned, with its personnel even sought to be criminally prosecuted. The BJP is a coalition partner with the POP in J & K and one expected it to put its foot down and ensure that no FIR is filed against the army in connection with the Shopian incident. But, what is even more disconcerting is that the state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti made a statement on the floor of the assembly that she ordered the filing of the FIR only after consulting Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Till date, Sitharaman has not refuted Mufti's claim. No one from the Union government has refuted Mufti's claim making it amply clear that the Central government had acquiesced in the filing of the FIR. What is worse is that the FIRs against the stone-pelters are being withdrawn.

The Indian armed forces are extremely professional and disciplined and over the decades have acquitted themselves exceedingly well. As far as Kashmir is concerned, despite the gravest of provocations, they have been observing restraint. However, if FIRs are filed against them for performing their duty, then it is a matter of deep concern for all those interested in the nation's security and integrity.

A group of veterans and concerned citizens have decided to stage a week-long 'dharna' (protest) at Azad Maidan starting Monday, February 12, 2018, from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the FIR against Major Aditya Kumar and his colleagues. It is high time all patriotic Indians rallied around in support and defense of the armed forces. The group further appealed to citizens to partake in the peaceful and democratic protest being held in the city. Capt. Raj Mohindra (Retd), Cmde. M. Bhada (Retd), Capt. Ashok Batra (Retd) and Advocate S. Balakrishnan were among those present at the protest.

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