The Border Security Force (BSF) on Wednesday admitted its involvement in the killing of a Srinagar youth, Zahid Farooq, on February 5. The erring BSF constable has been arrested and a special investigation team of the Jammu and Kashmir Police has formally begun investigations.
BSF Special Director-General P.P.S. Sidhu told journalists here that an internal inquiry found prima facie that constable Lakhvinder Kumar of the BSF’s 68 battalion was involved in the killing of 16-year-old Zahid of the Brien Nishat area. Mr. Sidhu, however, termed it an “accident.”
“Following the allegations regarding the killing of Zahid Farooq of Nishat on February 5, we conducted an internal investigation. Our inquiry has revealed prima facie the possibility of constable Lakhvinder Kumar being involved in the incident,” he said.
Mr. Sidhu, who rushed to Srinagar from Chandigarh to conduct the probe, added: “As a consequence, constable Kumar has been placed under suspension and has been handed over to the Jammu and Kashmir Police for further investigations in accordance with law.”
He did not elaborate on the incident and the provocation for opening fire on Zahid and his friends. “I can’t say. It is a matter of investigation and I can’t compromise with it. The Jammu and Kashmir Police will do the investigation which will reveal everything in the coming days,” he said, adding that the BSF would fully cooperate with the police in the investigations.
Asked about the “false statements” made by associates of the constable, Mr. Sidhu said, “They too were in the dark and didn’t know what had actually happened. There were other vehicles also but it was not clear what went wrong.” He said the BSF men had come to Srinagar for a medical examination.
Inspector-General (Kashmir zone) Farooq Ahmad told The Hindu that Javed Riyaz, senior superintendent of police in Srinagar, had formally taken up the investigation.
Appreciating the BSF investigation, Mr. Ahmad said: “We are taking it over and the investigation would continue. We had zeroed in on this battalion and they volunteered, which is appreciable. Our job is to find the culprit and there should be no question of making somebody a scapegoat.”
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the government had succeeded in pin-pointing the accused in the incident.
“After sustained efforts with the help of the BSF, the State police have identified the accused involved in the killing of the young boy,” Mr. Abdullah said.
Stern punishment likely
Addressing a news conference in Jammu, he said that a water-tight case on the basis of solid evidence would be framed against the accused.
“We want to hand stern punishment to the BSF constable accused of firing at and killing the young boy, so that it serves as a warning to others that the government will not spare anyone involved in innocent killing,” Mr. Abdullah said.
He thanked Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram for his support to the State government in identifying the accused, adding that he had taken up the issue with Mr. Chidambaram on the sidelines of the Chief Ministers Conference in New Delhi.