Two civilians were killed and one seriously injured after troops of Rashtriya Rifles allegedly opened unprovoked fire at a group of people in Bomai area near Sopore in north Kashmir on February 21,Saturday evening. After the incident massive protests erupted in the area.Reports reaching here said that troops of 22 Rashtriya Rifles opened indiscriminate fire, allegedly without any provocation, on a group of people who were part of a festival of a revered Saint’s shrine in Bomai.
Locals said that there was no firing from any side. “The Army firing was totally unprovoked and they opened fire at unarmed civilians who were engaged in a gossip” said Manzoor Ahmad a resident. Those who died in the incident have been identified as Muhammad Amin Tantray and Javaid Ahmad and Firdous Ahmad Khawaja was injured.
Such incidents of civilian deaths by Army firing was not new in the Valley.Many a time those involved are not punished. But with a popular elected Government in office the people of Kashmir expected some thing better.
The Chief Minister Omar Abdulla shaken by the incident and the protests it provoked ordered an enquiry by District Magistrate.
District Magistrate’s report said that the firing on February 22 was carried out by the Army in ‘panic’. It also contends the Army’s claim that there was a crossfire by saying that there is no evidence of militants being present on the spot.
This report of which has already been shared with the Army, said Army jawans were searching a bus in Sopore when they noticed some suspicious movement. The jawans opened fire in panic resulting in the death of two innocent civilians, it said.
The Army ordered an inquiry after initially denying its involvement. Now the Army's inquiry report is out.
A Junior Commissioned Officer and two soldiers were on Friday March 20,indicted for “various lapses” in connection with a firing incident at Bomai in Sopore. Army court of inquiry headed by a brigadier held the three belonging to 22 Rashtriya Rifles accountable for “various lapses,”. Disciplinary action had been ordered.
A visibly relieved Omar Abdullah said, “Army probe report is transparent. It is the fastest probe that has been conducted in the valley. I have kept the promise made to the people of the valley. Army has promised that strict action will be taken against the jawans.”
He also said that Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which has been in force for nearly two decades in militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir, will come to an end during the tenure of his government.
The Kashmiri people like Omar Abdulla is happy with the transparency and speed at which the inquiry was conducted. This raises new hopes of Peace.