BJP, Lt Guv Manoj Sinha demand high-level probe into Rajouri civilian killings
Amid rising public anger against the army for the killing of two civilian youths outside an army camp in Rajouri district in Jammu & Kashmir, the lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha and BJP state president Ravinder Raina have demanded a high-level probe into the incident.
Describing the incident as very unfortunate, Sinha announced an ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh for the families of two youth killed in the firing. Pointing out that the price of a life cannot be measured in monetary terms, he still announced an ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh for each of the affected families.
Meanwhile, the BJP’s state unit has demanded a high-level probe in the case by the army and the police. According to Raina, the police should also form a special investigation team and a transparent inquiry should be conducted similar to the one done into the killing of three innocent youths from Rajouri in the Shopian encounter in 2020, which eventually led to action being taken against the army men. He hoped that the army will show all sincerity and transparency while investigating the case
On Friday (December 16), PTI reported that Kamal Kishore and Surinder Kumar, who were working as porters with the army, were approaching the Alpha gate of the army camp around 6.15 am when they were fired upon. However, the army said that the duo was shot dead by “unidentified terrorists”.
The army however denied any involvement in the killings. They had tweeted about the incident thus: “In an early morning firing incident by unidentified terrorists at Rajauri near Military Hospital, there has been fatal casualty of two individuals. The police, security forces and civil administration officials are on the site.”
People began to gather at the gates of the army camp in Rajouri as the bullet-riddled bodies of both young men were found outside the army TCP Alpha Gate, minutes after gunshots were heard by the residents of the area.
A third person identified as Anil Kumar, 39, a resident of Uttarakhand, was also injured in the firing and he is undergoing treatment at a district hospital in Rajouri. His condition is however stable, said reports.
The residents accused the army of being involved in the killings and staged a protest with the dead bodies. They also blocked the Poonch-Rajouri highway temporarily. According to a report in a news website, an argument broke out between the locals and the soldiers, and some locals tried to storm the army camp gate to find the sentry who they believed had opened fire.
Further, reports said that stones were also pelted at the army camp. Senior army officials, who met the protesting locals on Friday, assured “full support of the army in the case”.
The J&K police has filed a case at Rajouri police station under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of Indian Penal Code and Section 7/27 of the Arms Act (punishment for using arms).
The BJP has also raised the issue with Union home minister Amit Shah, the Northern Command chief and the General Officer Commanding of the 25 Infantry Division.
Raina said that J&K director general of police Dilbag Singh has also agreed to hold an investigation into the case. Meanwhile, top officials of the civil administration and security agencies attended the last rites of the two victims, Kamal Kumar and Surinder Kumar, in Rajouri.
National Conference president Dr Farooq Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti also condemned the killings and demanded a time-bound probe.