Army men found guilty of killing civilians in Kashmir (Lead)

March 20th, 2009 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) A court of inquiry Friday found three Indian Army personnel guilty of killing civilians in Jammu and Kashmir last month and court martial proceedings will be initiated against them soon, an official said here.
The court of inquiry was conducted by a brigadier of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps.

“One JCO (Junior Commissioned Officer) and two jawans (soldiers) have been held guilty of not exercising adequate command and control and also not exercising restraint in using their weapons,” an army official said.

“Disciplinary action has been ordered against them. Court martial proceedings will begin soon. A jail term is also likely, depending on the charges slapped against them,” the official added.

Widespread protests erupted across the Kashmir Valley following the Feb 21 killing of two civilians near north Kashmir’s Sopore town by troops of counter-insurgency Rashtriya Rifles, following which the government had ordered a magisterial probe.

The victims were identified as Mohammed Amin Tantray and Firdous Ahmed Khwaja. They were said to be returning with a group of youth from a festival at a Sufi shrine in the area.

“The punishment will show the army’s zero tolerance of human rights violations,” the official added.

The report of the court of inquiry comes three days after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met Defence Minister A.K. Antony and discussed with him the killing of civilians in the allegedly “unprovoked firing” by army personnel.

Antony then asked the Indian Army to submit an inquiry report within 48 hours. Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor Thursday assured strict disciplinary action against those found guilty.

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