The BSF today shunted out Commandant R. K. Birdi from his battalion and approached the Home Ministry for his suspension over his alleged role in the killing of a 16-year-old boy, which triggered strong protests here.
BSF suspended 14 personnel who were with constable Lakhwinder Kumar when he had opened fire at Zahid Farooq Shah on February 5 at Brain-Nishat. Kumar has already been placed under suspension.
Birdi, the commandant of 68th Battalion, was moved to the headquarters in Sanatnagar, in the wake of allegations by Kumar that he had opened fire at the teenager on Birdi’s orders.
Official sources said the BSF has recommended that the Commandant be suspended. As per rules, action against a Commandant-level officer can be taken only under orders of the Home Ministry.
Director General BSF Raman Shrivastava has ordered a Staff Court of Inquiry in the matter. BSF Inspector General (Tripura) Ramesh Singh will head the fact-finding mission.
The BSF has said it has found “prima facie” involvement of Kumar in the incident.
They said the constable’s claim was being ascertained and some BSF officials, including Birdi, will be questioned.
The BSF had handed over Kumar to the local police for investigation, alleging he was “prima facie” involved in the killing.
The family of the slain teenager has accused the force of making the constable a scapegoat to save a senior officer.
Official sources said the investigation by the J&K police is underway and the BSF will exchange all information relating to the case with it.
IG, BSF Baljit Singh said Birdi has been shifted in view of the Court of Inquiry to ascertain the facts but denied that the commandant had forced Kumar to shoot at the teenager.
He said shifting of the commandant has been ordered to facilitate the investigation. The step was so that the probe was not hampered.
The BSF has already admitted that one of its constables was involved in the boy’s killing and he was handed over to local police for further investigations.
The police have registered a case of murder and the probe will ascertain whether the constable fired on his own or took orders from the Commandant, sources said.
“The commanding officer concealed the incident for five days until an internal probe was ordered due to protests and Union Home Ministry’s directive to cooperate with the local police,” they said.
The BSF Special Director General P.P.S. Sidhu had told reporters on February ten that the force had no information about the involvement of its men in the killing till the inquiry was ordered.