NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday restrained the Jammu and Kashmir Police from taking any “coercive steps” against Army officers including Major Aditya Kumar, who have been made an accused in the Shopian firing case in which three civilians were killed.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud also asked the counsel for Lieutenant Colonel Karamveer Singh, the father of Major Aditya Kumar, to share the copies of his petition with the office of Attorney General K K Venugopal and the state government.
Besides seeking Venugopal’s assistance in dealing with the matter, the bench asked the state government to file its response to the plea within two weeks. As an interim measure, it directed the state government not to take any coercive steps against Army officials.
The apex court had on February 9 agreed to hear the plea of Singh seeking to quash the FIR against his son. Singh has said his son, a Major in 10 Garhwal Rifles, was “wrongly and arbitrarily” named in the FIR as the incident relates to an Army convoy that was on bona fide military duty in an area under the AFSPA and was isolated by an “unruly and deranged mob” pelting stones, causing damage to military vehicles.
Three civilians were killed when Army soldiers fired at stone-pelting youth in Ganovpora village in Shopian, prompting the chief minister to order an inquiry into the incident. The FIR was registered against personnel of 10 Garhwal Rifles, including Major Kumar, under sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Ranbir Penal Code.
The petitioner has sought directions for guidelines to protect the rights of soldiers and adequate compensation so that no Army personnel is harassed by initiation of criminal proceedings for bona fide actions in exercise of their duties. It has also sought registration of FIR against people involved in militant activities which had caused damage to property of the government.
Karamveer Singh has said in his plea that his son’s intention was to save Army personnel and property and the fire was inflicted “only to impair and provide a safe escape from a savage and violent mob engaged in terrorist activity”.
The unruly behaviour of the “unlawful assembly” escalated and they got hold of a Junior Commissioned Officer and were in the process of lynching him when warning shots were fired to disperse the violent mob and protect public property, the plea has said.
Singh has also referred to last year’s incident of a mob lynching DSP Mohd Ayub Pandith to apprise the top court about the situation in the state and the condition in which Army officials were working to control violent protests in Kashmir.