2018 Shopian firing incident
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|2018 Shopian firing incident|
|Date||27 January 2018|
Ganawpora village, Shopian District, Jammu and Kashmir
|Status||Police Investigation, Magisterial Probe and Army Investigation in Process.|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
|Death(s)||3 civilians dead|
|Human rights abuses |
in Jammu and Kashmir
|1995 kidnapping of Western tourists in Kashmir|
The Shopian firing incident or Shopian civilian killings case refers to two civilians being killed when Indian Army personnel fired at a stone-pelting mob in Ganawpora village, Shopian District, Jammu and Kashmir, on 27 January 2018. A third civilian succumbed to injuries on 31 January 2018 resulting from the army firing. The army made statements saying it opened fire on the crowd in self-defence and in the face of the "ultimate provocation", whereas eyewitnesses claim that the army opened fire after an altercation ensued over the security personnel’s attempt to remove posters near the house of a slain militant in the village. A police investigation as well as a separate government magisterial probe have been launched. The army has also launched its own investigation as well as a counter-FIR, as reported by the media, which has been contradicted by a statement by the chief-minister of Jammu and Kashmir saying that no "counter-FIR" has been filed, rather a counter to the FIR filed by the police. In addition to this, on 8 February 2018, the children of Indian army personnel have moved the National Human Rights Commission regarding the human rights of Indian Army personnel being violated daily due to stone-pelting in light of recent events including this one.
On Saturday afternoon, 27 January 2018, a security force convoy passing through Ganovpora (Ganowpora) village in Shopian district was pelted with stones which resulted in the security forces firing in self-defence.
A defence spokesperson, in a statement, said:
“It was not an operation or patrol [...] an Army administration convoy was passing through Ganovpora when it came under unprovoked and intense stone- pelting by a group of 100-120 stone-pelters. Within no time, their number swelled to 200-250 persons. The crowd surrounded an isolated portion of the convoy consisting of four vehicles. [...] A junior commissioned officer accompanying the convoy got hit on the head and fell unconscious. He was seriously injured. The mob tried to lynch the individual and snatch his weapon. The violent crowd further closed in towards the vehicles and attempted to set them on fire. [...] A total of seven Army men suffered injuries while extensive damage was caused to eleven vehicles. In the process, two civilians succumbed to the bullet injuries”
Eyewitnesses in Ganawpora village, where the incident took place however said that the army opened fire after an altercation ensued over the security personnel’s attempt to remove posters of a slain militant in the village.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Shopian, confirmed the death of two civilians identified as Javaid Ahmad Bhat and Suhail Javid Lone. The dead civilians were wrapped in Pakistani flags during the funeral procession and buried in their local graveyards in Balpora and Ganowpora villages, Jammu and Kashmir. Hundreds of locals offered funeral prayers. A total of nine people were injured including Adil Ahmad (19) and Suhail Ahmad and Rayees Ahmad Ganai (21) who had to be hospitalised. Rayees Ahmad Ganie, son of Mohd Yousuf Ganie of Narpora village of the south Kashmir district succumbed to his injuries on 31 January 2018.
Curfew and Protests
As the news of the killings spread, hundreds hit the streets chanting anti-India slogans. Tension in Shopian was already high after security forces killed two militants from Hizbul Mujahideen and a teenage boy during a gun battle on 27 January 2018. One of the slain militants was from the village where the shooting on 27 January took place. Six days of consecutive shutdowns by the separatists and curfews followed. Clashes erupted in Pulwama after the youth injured in Shopian army firing died on 31 January 2018.
There were minor clashes after the funerals on 27 January 2018 in Shopian District.
Srinagar District and other parts
The authorities imposed restrictions in parts of Kashmir valley following the incident. Train and internet services were suspended in south Kashmir for the day. District Magistrate, Srinagar, Syed Abid Rasheed Shah ordered restrictions under Section 144:
“In (the) territorial jurisdictions of Srinagar’s Khanyar, Rainawari, Nowhatta, Safakadal and M.R. Gunj police stations. Partial restrictions were also imposed in Maisuma and Kralkhud police stations. [...] The restrictions have been imposed as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident.”
Separatists leaders including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik called for a valley-wide shutdown over the killings, arrest over the killings and demanded that Kashmir be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, a view that is widespread even among civilians in the region. All shops and business centres remained closed and there was a thin traffic on the roads.
A police investigation as well as a separate government probe have been launched. The army has also launched its own investigation.
The police registered the FIR under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and section 336 of the Ranbir Penal Code against the Indian Army personnel. The FIR was registered against the personnel of 10, Garhwal unit, of the Army. A Major, who led the Army personnel at the time of the incident was also mentioned in the FIR.
Army sources responded claiming:
J&K police chief SP Vaid made a clarification statement that no officer has been named in the FIR over the Shopian killings, contradicting the initial statements made by junior police officers that names of army personnel were mentioned in the FIR. SP Vaid said that registration of the FIR in the Shopian incident is just the beginning of the investigation.
“FIR is start of the investigation process. It doesn’t conclude there. [...] No officer has been named, the FIR only mentions the unit of Army headed by the person [...] Now it’s a matter of investigation what were the circumstances they were pelted upon. [...] The Army’s version, eye- witness accounts and the statement of those who lost their near and dear ones would be included. We will go through all facts and the ground evidences of the case and the Army will also be questioned."
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti ordered a magisterial inquiry into the killings and sought a report within 20 days, publicly stating:
“The Army is an institution and has done a wonderful job. But a black sheep can be anywhere... Among judges there can be black sheep, but we can’t paint everyone with the same brush. [...] (It is the) government’s duty to take the investigation to a logical conclusion."
The Army has launched an investigation into the incident.
- Abdul Rashid Bhat father of one of the killed civilians, Javed Ahmed Bhat, said:
"Have no faith in Govt ordered probe"
“It is useless to wait for the government report which is expected to come within 20 days. Show me a single instance when the magisterial probe has achieved anything in hundreds of like incidents since 1989.”
- Javaid Lone, the father of one of the civilians killed, Suhail Javaid, said that his son was at home on the fateful Saturday and was not part of protest:
“Why did not they (the army) fire on his leg? Why (did) they had to hit him on the head?”
“Around 3 pm, an indiscriminate firing started in the village which continued for at least 30 minutes, and Suhail was beside me at our home. When we heard the firing has stopped, he went outside, and forces from some 100 metres of distance fired on him."
- The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir publicly made statements in support of the police investigation and magisterial probe into the killings, and added that the incident is a "setback" to the political and peace process.
- BJP MLA from Ramnagar RS Pathania said that his and his party’s stand is that loss of a human life for whatsoever reason and in whatsoever manner is condemnable and that there shall be a magisterial enquiry and criminal action into the matter but added:
“I don’t get this part that how can you lay the blame on a person on the very first day. [...] an FIR against army men for such serious offences on the very first day? [...] Whatsoever happened in the past few days is a law and order issue and there shall be no politics in it. [...] Our stand is that it is wrong to register an FIR in the name of some individuals for such serious offences. First there should be an enquiry into the matter. No criminal investigation can be completed overnight or in one or two hours)"
“The government should withdraw the FIR against the Army personnel and lodge a fresh FIR without naming anybody.”
- BJP MLA from Nowshera, Ravinder Raina, justified firing by army troops on civilians in Shopian attributing the stone pelting in Shopian to a conspiracy by Pakistan after army troops foiled all its attempts to push militants into the state and that whatsoever army did was need of the hour otherwise hundreds of innocent lives would have been lost:
"Whatever the Army had done is in the ambit of law and in self defence"
- Rajnath Singh when asked about the case registered against Army personnel following the death of two civilians in firing in Kashmir's Shopian district last week, the minister praised the Army:
"I can say that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has turned far normal compared to what it was. Our security forces and Army personnel were working effectively. J&K is ours, it will always be ours and people of J&K are also ours."
- The Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has made no official statement.
- Congress condemned the killings.
- Pakistan strongly condemned the "brutal and indiscriminate" use of force by government forces.The Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) in Islamabad issued an official statement:
“[...] Countering peaceful, unarmed protesters with lethal weapons and direct bullets is another manifestation of the state-terrorism being perpetrated by India against the Kashmiris on a daily basis. [...] It is clear that the Kashmiri youth is being systematically targeted in order to break the will of the people. [...] The valiant people of Kashmir have proved, time and again, that no amount of incarcerations, torture and indiscriminate killings could dissuade them from pursuing their legitimate and inalienable right to self-determination."
Activists and Human Rights Groups
- Rights groups say such investigations rarely yield any concrete results and are generally aimed at calming public anger.
- Insurgency in Kashmir
- Stone pelting in Kashmir
- Human Rights Abuses in Kashmir
- Psychological Warfare
- 2018 Kulgam encounter
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