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Shopian encounter: Army to complete recording of statements in 10 days

Army jawans stand guard near the encounter site in Amshipora area of Shopian on July 18, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

The Army’s Court of Inquiry (CoI) into Operation Amshipora in Shopian, in which three terrorists were killed and the Army had accepted there were excesses, would complete recording statements within the next 10 days and action taken as per the recommendations, said Maj. Gen. Rashim Bali, General Officer Commanding of the Victor Force covering South Kashmir under 15 Corps, said on Thursday.

“As on today, the statements of 70%, or perhaps more, of all the essential witnesses have already been recorded. The only people left are those who not here locally. I am very certain that within a week or perhaps 10 days, the proceedings will be over. The officer concerned has been put in close arrest in a different unit,” Maj. Gen. Bali told a small group of journalists. “Whatever has to happen as per the right tenets of the law will happen”.

Police probe also on

As soon as the CoI gave its recommendations, the summary of evidence recording, a precursor to court martial proceedings, would start. Police investigation into the criminology part was simultaneously on.

Maj. Gen. Bali said that within 20 days of the incident, an advertisement was placed in the media stating that anyone who had information should come forward. Within one week, the CoI was constituted and within 10-15 days, it had established that prima facie there was a case of violation of the Army’s code of conduct. “We are clear that our code of conduct has been flouted,” he stated.

The nature of the excesses would be determined by the inquiry. The Army and its Chief were absolutely clear that “any act of negligence by omission or commission will be addressed.” “It will not be overlooked,” he asserted.

Last month the Army said an inquiry ordered into the Shopian encounter of July 18 concluded that during the operation, the powers vested under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) “were exceeded” and the “do’s and dont’s of the Chief of the Army Staff [COAS] as approved by the Supreme Court have been contravened.” The inquiry was ordered after three families from the Pir Panjal valley's Rajouri district claimed that the three killed were their kin and labourers by profession.

The inquiry would determine if the officer had to be blamed or if he had some accomplices who have waylaid him. The moment it came out whosoever had done whatsoever, they would get their due.

Minimum use of force

On the situation in south Kashmir, Maj. Gen. Bali said that while local terror recruitment was on the rise, they were untrained and the Army was taking measures to dissuade the local youth. During operations, the Army was now holding cordons all night, if required. “We are advocating minimum use of force and minimum collateral damage to avoid loss of lives and damage to property”. As part of an outreach advocated by the 15 Corps Commander, they were now taking civilians to Army’s Company Operating Bases (COB), he added.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 11:49:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/shopian-encounter-army-to-complete-statements-recording-within-10-days/article32864204.ece

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