Army Admits ‘Mistake’ in Killing of Kashmiri Youths in Budgam

Two Kashmiri youths were killed in Budgam when their vehicle came under fire at an army check post.
Two Kashmiri youths were killed in Budgam when their vehicle came under fire at an army check post.


SRINAGAR — The Indian Army has admitted its “mistake” over the firing incident in Budgam district of Kashmir which left two youths dead and said that the inquiry into the episode would be completed within days and action taken against anyone found guilty of violating the rules of engagement, according to Press Trust of India.

“Let me state this very clearly that we take responsibility for what happened (at Chattergam in Budgam),” General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Army’s Northern Command, Lt Gen. DS Hooda, told reporters here.

Referring to the incident on Monday in which two youths were also injured, the top Army official said that while mistakes happen on the ground, “every time, lessons are learnt and it is our desire that procedures are put in place that such incidents do not happen”.

An inquiry has been ordered into the episode and it will be completed expeditiously, he said.

“It (inquiry) commenced the very next day (of the incident). As of now, 15 civilian witnesses have been examined. The service witnesses have been examined.

“I want to assure everyone here that the highest standards of truth and highest standards of transparency will be followed. We are targeting that the inquiry is completed within days and not months. Hopefully, if all goes well and all the witnesses come in, we will have completed the inquiry in the next 10 days,” he added.

Hooda said that the Ministry of Defense has announced compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for the next of kin of the two deceased along with Rs 5 lakh each for the injured boys.

“We would like to assure the families of our fullest support and our fullest cooperation… We are committed to rehabilitation. We are committed to full recovery of those injured.

“The boys who were injured are being provided quality medical care at the 92 Base Hospital here and we are hopeful that there are no long-term issues as far as their medical health is concerned. The rehabilitation of the injured boys will also be taken up by us,” he said.

Lt Gen. Hooda, meanwhile, said that the Army will cooperate with any other agency which might be asked to probe the incident.

“We will fully cooperate with any other investigation that is to be done, whether by police or ordered by the state government or otherwise. The army is fully committed to wholeheartedly participating in that (investigation),” he added.

Stating that the Army sincerely wished that the incident had not occurred in the first place, Hooda said they would welcome any suggestions that could help prevent the loss of innocent lives.

“It will be our focus to ensure that there is no repeat of such incidents in future. We would be grateful to receive any suggestion, any advice, from civil society and the population at large on how we can improve our procedures so that not a single innocent life is lost,” he said.

Talking about the incident itself, the Army commander said there was an intelligence input about the movement of militants in the area following which a vehicle check-point was set up.

“We have very specific dos and don’ts for conducting operations, which have been passed down to the troops. These have been very clearly spelt out and if there is any violation of these, we will deal with it appropriately.

“The circumstance under which this very unfortunate incident has taken place is being investigated,” he said.

“As far as this incident is concerned, please wait (as to) what is going to happen on the ground. What comes out in the inquiry will be transparent. You will come to know what action will be taken by us,” he added.

Hooda noted that incidents like the one at Budgam takes the gloss off the humanitarian work done by the Army.

“All the work we do and the work that is done in flood relief, such incidents take us back,” he said.

Hooda further said, “The version of the survivors will be taken into account. The statement of the two injured boys have already been taken. We are going to take everyone’s version and there is not too much dispute over what has already been admitted — that we did fire and that these boys got killed.

“There is no way we can disregard their version.”

The Army commander said that the unit involved in the incident has been relocated from the area and troops of the 35 Rashtriya Rifles have been posted there now.

In response to a question, Lt Gen. Hooda said, “AFSPA has actually nothing to do with this. Let the investigation be completed. Legal action will be taken if we find out that the rules of engagement were violated.”

Two youths were killed and two others injured in Army firing on Nov. 3 at Chattergam in Budgam district of central Kashmir when they did not stop their vehicle at check-points.


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