The Army saw itself in a dock on Saturday over the civilian killings, a day after it claimed that the two youths were killed in militants’ firing outside an Army camp in Rajouri district of Jammu & Kashmir. J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha as well as BJP State president Ravinder Raina criticised the killings and pressed for a high-level probe.
Facing public outrage, Mr. Sinha announced an ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh for the families of two youth killed in the firing. Mr. Sinha also described the incident as “very unfortunate”.
“The price of a life cannot be set in monetary terms but still I announce an ex-gratia of ₹5 lakh for each of the affected families,” Mr. Sinha said.
Taking a tough stand, the BJP has demanded a high-level probe by the Army as well as the police on the lines of the 2020 Shopian staged encounter, where three youth were killed and passed as militants by the Army.
“A high-level probe should be initiated in the case by the Army. The police should also form a special investigation team. There should be a transparent inquiry just the way investigation of the killing of three innocent youth from Rajouri in Shopian (encounter in 2020) was held and an action was taken against the Army men,” Mr. Raina said.
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. “J&K Director General of Police Dilbag Singh has also agreed to hold an investigation into the case,” Mr. Raina said.
Describing the killings of two innocent youth as “sad and painful”, Mr. Raina said, “those responsible should face the rule of law. This country is run under the Constitution. No one is above the Constitution. It’s the same for all. I am hopeful that the Army will show all sincerity and transparency while investigating the case.”
“I spoke to L-G Manoj Sinha and DGP Dibagh Singh and sought a high-level probe. The DGP agreed to it. The L-G also spoke to the family. He (the L-G) has assured that justice will be delivered,” Mr. Raina said.
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. The Army on Friday said the two youth, who were working in the Army as porters, were killed in militants firing at the camp. However, locals and the families have disputed the Army’s version.
Top Army officials, who met the protesting locals on Friday, assured “full support of the Army in the case”. An Army camp faced stone pelting from the locals after the killings.
National Conference president Dr. Farooq Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti also condemned the killings and demanded a time-bound probe.