Army admits to killing Budgam boys

Army admits to killing Budgam boys

The Army on Friday accepted that it had mistakenly killed two boys in central Kashmir's Budgam district recently, and promised a transparent and time-bound probe into the incident.

Addressing a press conference at the 15 Corps headquarters here, Northern Command chief Lt Gen D S Hooda said: “We take responsibility for the death of the two boys in Kashmir. We admit that a mistake was made, and that a transparent investigation will be taken up.”

Assuring that such incidents would not happen in future, he said, “We are aiming to complete the inquiry 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. Around 15 civilian witnesses have recorded their statements, apart from those from the Army.”

The commander also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the deceased, and Rs 5 lakh for injured. “We would like to assure the families of our fullest support and cooperation. We are committed to rehabilitation and full recovery of those injured,” he said.

He also said the military unit involved in the incident, the 53 Rashtriya Rifles, has been replaced with troops from 25 Rashtriya Rifles. On Monday, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had also promised action against those found guilty.

 “The Budgam incident in the Kashmir Valley is highly regrettable. A fair inquiry will be held and action taken against those found guilty," he had tweeted. Faisal Bhat (14) and Meraj-ud-Din Dar (20) were killed when soldiers fired at the vehicle they were travelling in after they allegedly refused to stop at an Army checkpost in the Chatergam area of Budgam on Monday evening.

Two more boys—Zahid and Shakir—were critically injured in the incident and are undergoing treatment at Army hospital here. Basim Amin, the fifth boy who accompanied his friends, had a providential escape and returned home safe. All five belonged to the Nowgam area on the outskirts of the city.

There has been huge outrage over the killings, with all the political parties cutting across ideologies demanding the severest punishment for the accused soldiers.

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