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Embarrassed, CM Mehbooba forced to take U-turn in Major Aditya Kumar case

Mehbooba-Mufti

SRINAGAR: Embarrassed by the Supreme Court putting on hold any action against Major Aditya Kumar of 10 Garhwal Rifles on the petition filed by the Army officer’s father, the Mehbooba-led PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir denied on Tuesday that it had filed an FIR in the name of the major in connection with the “killing of two youth” in Shopian on January 27 when the Army unit had come under heavy stone-pelting.

The government’s U-turn has come as a rude shock to those who trusted chief minister Mehbooba, political analysts said. People in Kashmir posted images of the police FIR on social media that clearly showed that Major Aditya Kumar had been charged with murder.

A senior PDP minister said on condition of anonymity that Monday’s Supreme Court direction may encourage the armed forces in J&K but it had humiliated the PDP to the extent that it would have to think about its political future in the Kashmir Valley, where it has more followers than in any other part of J&K.

The armed forces are protected by the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990, which gives them legal cover.Police had charged Major Kumar and his 10 Garhwal Rifles unit with murder, attempt to murder, and endangering the lives of civilians in Shopian district. Three civilians had died when the Army unit had opened fire on protesters in Shopian’s Ganowpora village on January 27.

Hurriyat leaders like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq criticised the Mehbooba government’s denial. “Now J&K Govt in Supreme Court says no accused named in the police FIR registered in the killing of 3 civilians in Shopian, while all along they were beating the drum that Major Aditya Kumar was identified and named and justice will be delivered!” Mirwaiz wrote on Twitter.

Separatists, as well as traders’ bodies, have now again demanded revocation of the Armed Force (Special Powers) Act from J&K.

The fresh killings on Sunday of six people, including two Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, gave the PDP another jolt in the Kashmir Valley, particularly in her home constituency of Anantnag, but sources close to CM Mehbooba believe she is optimistic about placating angry Kashmiris. “Yes, CM Mehbooba is anguished by Sunday’s firing and killing of six people in Shopian, which shifted the earth under her feet at least in south Kashmir, but she has not lost hope of winning the hearts and minds of alienated people in Kashmir, particularly in south kashmir, her party’s bastion,” sources close to her said, referring to CBMs announced by Mehbooba, including amnesty for stone-pelters and the Centre’s appointment of former IB director Dineshwar Sharma as an interlocutor to help resolve the crisis in the state.

The CBMs had two purposes: laying the ground for talks with the Centre through its interlocutor and helping the PDP regain lost ground in the Valley after the street violence that followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.

Not only Mehbooba, former CM Omar Abdullah, too, has constantly demanded the gradual withdrawal of AFSPA from peaceful areas of J&K. However, the Indian Army has rejected proposals to withdraw the law even from Srinagar, Budgam and Jammu, which are not covered by AFSPA and are usually protected by the J&K police. Several national political parties say the armed forces should have the final say on the issue.Despite knowing that the Army was protected by the particular law, the Mehbooba government had deliberately registered an FIR against Major Kumar and his unit for the “murder of two youth”.

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