NEW DELHI - Indian Army sources today said that its soldiers, charged with murder over the death of two civilians in firing on protesters at a village in Jammu and Kashmir 's Shopian, "opened fire in a desperate situation", NDTV has reported.
A crowd of protesters injured a soldier with stones and "threatened to burn" him, the Army sources said amid a massive political row between the state's ruling PDP and its ally BJP.
A Major and his unit have been charged in a First Information Report or FIR filed by the state police after the death of Javaid Ahmad Bhat, 20, and Suhail Javid Lone, 24. The Major, the sources said, was not even present at the spot where 10 soldiers were trapped by over 200 stone-throwing protesters.
"It is impossible in a situation like this to raise questions on why the two people killed were apparently shot in the head. In a situation like this, you fire where you can, ideally below the waist. But if a person gets a bullet to the head, he may have been bending down," the sources said.
Around 30 army trucks were heading to administrative duty when a few got separated and were trapped by protesters who hurled stones at them.
"The JCO (senior jawan) tried to reason with the crowd. The major in charge of the convoy was not present. He was elsewhere in another vehicle. A brick or heavy stone was hit at one of the JCO. He sustained head injuries and fell unconscious. The crowd came within 7 metres of the soldiers. They tried to snatch the unconscious JCO. Some of them may have said, burn the soldier. The soldiers are trained to shoot to kill," the sources said.
The crowd of 100 swelled to more than double, claimed the Army sources. The soldiers fired warning shots and then "opened fire" in a desperate situation, said the sources. The crowd dispersed after the firing.
The FIR against the Major and other soldiers provoked sparring in the assembly yesterday, with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti at odds with her alliance partner BJP, which said a fresh case should be filed without names.
Facing angry BJP lawmakers, Ms Mufti said her government had taken action against the Army only after consulting Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The chief minister also stressed that action against the guilty would not hurt the morale of the Army and pledged to take the case to "a logical end".
Amid protests and a shutdown call by separatists, mobile internet services were suspended in parts of Kashmir valley on Sunday.