BSF suspends Commandant
Court of Inquiry Ordered, 15 Troopers Scattered For ‘Smooth Probe’
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Feb 13: A day after the paramilitary BSF constable, Lakhvinder Kumar, revealed that he was “forced by his officer to open fire” on the 16-year old Nishat teenager, Zahid Farooq, the BSF on Saturday placed the commandant of 68th battalion, R K Birdi under suspension and ordered a Court of Inquiry against him for “dereliction of duty.” The force also shifted 15 of its men who were accompanying the Commandant at the time of Zahid’s killing, to separate BSF installations.
BSF officials said Birdi was suspended for “not reporting the incident (Zahid’s killing on Feb 5) to his senior officers. Birdi has been shifted from battalion headquarters Nishat to BSF headquarters Pantha Chowk to ensure free and fair probe, official said, “He may be arrested and questioned.”
However, sources said, the step was taken following revelations by the arrested BSF constable that he was forced by the commandant to fire upon the teenager.
“By virtue of the rules, the commandant was bound to immediately report the incident to his seniors. But he concealed the incident for 5-days. It tantamounts to dereliction of duty. It was after an internal probe that the involvement of one of the troopers of his battalion was established in the killing. The commandant has been placed under suspension and shifted to Pantha Chowk headquarters for ensuring free and fair probe,” Public Relations Officer of BSF told Greater Kashmir.
The PRO said a Court of Inquiry had been ordered and a special team from New Delhi would conduct the investigation. The team is scheduled to arrive in the Valley in a few days.
“We don’t want BSP personnel accompanying the Commandant to work as a group. We have scattered them in our various units within Srinagar. They will remain separated till completion of the Court of Inquiry. The step has been taken to ensure smooth conduct of investigations,” the PRO said.
Pertinently, the BSF on Wednesday had admitted that its constable, Lakhvinder Kumar was involved in the killing and handed him over to police for further investigation.
“The accused constable is being interrogated by police. The police have also been questioning other BSF personnel who were traveling to Nishat on that fateful day. The BSF does not have access to statements of the accused as the matter is in the Court of Law. We want to maintain that our action against the Commandant is based on our rules and not allegations or statements,” the PRO said.
Incidentally, the eyewitnesses have been maintaining that an officer in civvies had fired upon Zahid. “One of the eye-witnesses told me that an officer in white clothes alighted from a Gypsy. The officer had snatched rifle of one of his troopers and asked Zahid and his friends to run away from the spot. Without any provocation, the officer had aimed at and then fired upon Zahid,” Zahid’s father, Farooq Ahmad Sheikh had quoted eyewitness as having told him.
The police officials privy to investigation revealed that there was no apparent provocation from Zahid as the bullet had hit his back and pierced through his chest. The Special Investigation Team probing the killing has also started investigations against the Commandant in light of eye-witness accountants, circumstantial and scientific evidences.
The Divisional Commissioner, Naseema Lanker, who was appointed as inquiry officer into Zahid’s killing by Government, is scheduled to submit her report to Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah next week.
BSF IG TO HEAD INQUIRY
“The internal inquiry would be conducted by an Inspector General level officer as mandated under the procedure. The inquiry would ascertain the facts of the case and sequence of events in entirety,” BSF sources said here today.
They added that all the details of the incident of the particular day would be scrutinised and the officers and other ranks of the force who accompanied constable Lakhvinder Kumar would be questioned in the inquiry, headed by BSF IG, Tripura Range.
They said the investigation that the J&K police is conducting is underway and the BSF would exchange all information relating to the case with it.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Feb 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Feb 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 14 Feb 2010 00:00:00 IST
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