3 years after troopers shot two youth dead, families seek proof of action; allege that witnesses’ statements were never recorded
Srinagar: Nearly three years after two youth from Nowgam village in the outskirts of Srinagar were killed by army’s 53 Rashtriye Rifles in neighbouring Chattergam village of Budgam district, after “mistaking them as militants”, police investigation into the case has not advanced beyond filing of an FIR at Police Station Chadoora.
A police official said that the “matter is under investigation”, but no one has been arrested so far. Mohammad Yousuf, who works as Munshi at the police station, said that the FIR (231/2014) has been filed against 53 Rashtriye Rifles for killing two youth in Chattergam. “We are investigating it, but no arrests have been made so far,” he said.
Station House Officer Chadoora, Mohammad Rouf Bazaz, only heard a question about the progress in investigation on Saturday, and hang up. Repeated calls to his number went unanswered. On Sunday, when Kashmir Reader again contacted Bazaz, he said, he is busy. He never returned the call.
The youth, Faisal Yousuf Bhat and Mehraj-ud-din Dar, were killed and two others, Shakir Bhat and Zahid Naqash, were injured on the evening of November 3, 2014, when troopers of 53 RR fired upon a Maruti car they were travelling in at Chattergam village in central Kashmir’s Badgam district. They were on their way home after watching a Muharram procession in Chattergam.
Interestingly, a statement by the inspector general of police (IGP) Kashmir zone, has made a similar statement at the time of the incident. He said an FIR has been registered and investigation has started.
A day after the incident, Indian Army regretted the incident, ordered an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the incident. “Anyone found guilty will be severely dealt with,” a statement issued by the army said.
After widespread demonstrations, army later admitted that firing at the car was a “blunder” and four troopers were found guilty of “violating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)”.
More than a month later in December, prime minster of India, Narendra Modi while addressing a maiden rally in Kashmir, had even said that “for the first time in 30 years has government acted against army men responsible for killing two innocent teenagers in Budgam recently.
“Anyone makes a mistake…for the first time in 30 years, it is the Modi government’s wonder, that army admitted at a press conference that the killing of two youth (at Chattergam in Budgam district) was a mistake.
“An inquiry commission probed the matter and those who fired the bullets were slapped with charges. This is the proof of my good intentions. This has not happened in 30 years. I have come to provide justice to you,” Modi said in his maiden election rally in Kashmir.
Maisira, Faisal’s mother, told Kashmir Reader that they were not informed about any action taken against the involved troopers even though army officials claimed so in statements to media.
“We want to know the names of those troopers who shot our son dead. We want to see their faces. Get their trail done if army and prime minister claim that they have taken action against the culprits,” she said.
While the army claims that the trail is going-on in an army court, the mother says that they have been repeatedly demanding the trail be shifted to civil court, so that family could know about any developments in the case.
Ghulam Mohammad, father of another slain youth, Mehraj-ud-din, says that the investigations of army as well as the police has so far yielded “nothing”. “Police has not filed even a single challan in court against the involved,” he said.
“No one from police or any government agency approached us to hear our version and neither did police record statements of witnesses to the Chattergam incident. It is as if nothing has happened.”
Defense spokesman, Rajesh Kalia, didn’t respond to phone calls on Saturday. However, in reply to a text message, Kalia said that he will check the status of the case and respond. Till Sunday evening, however, no response came. His mobile phone was also switched off.
Senior superintendent of police, Budgam, Tejinder Singh refused to reveal the details about the case and said the case is under investigation. “(The) matter is under investigation. Till it is completed, we can’t say anything to you,” Singh said.