NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has indicted nine soldiers including a Junior Commissioned Officer of 53 Rashtriya Rifles for killing two youth in Chattergam Chadoora area of Budgam district on November 3.

The two youths Faisal Yusuf and Mehraj-u-din Dar were killed while two others in the same car injured after soldiers of 53 Rajputana Rifles opened fire on their Maruti car at Chattergam. The two boys died on the spot. The killing triggered state wide protests and condemnation.

After an initial attempt to cover up the incident by maintaining that the boys did not stop at the security barriers, the Army retracted the statement and apologised for the incident. In a rate occurrence for Jammu and Kashmir, the Army had made it clear that a full fledged time bound enquiry would be ordered into the incident, and transparent action taken. The Army followed the assurance almost immediately by instituting a court of Inquiry (CoI) into the killings.

“Legal action will be taken if we find out that rules of engagement have been violated. We will complete the inquiry within 10 days.” General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command, Lt General D S Hooda had said.

While disclosing the enquiry report, Indian army said that there had been gross violation of rules of engagement, that lead to the killings of two youths.

“The court of inquiry has found gross violation of rules of engagement by the soldiers. They have been indicted. There has been a total failure of the command by the officer in-charge of the Army column,” Defence Public Relations Officer Brajesh Pandey said. He said it was for the Northern Command to check out the legal immunity given to the Army forces in Jammu and Kashmir, and that will be final in deciding the fate of the indicted soldiers.

The local media reported that the court martial proceedings have been recommended against the soldiers. And the file has been sent for final approval to GOC-in-Chief northern Command.

There seems to be a noticeable shift in the attitude of the Army towards violations of human rights, a major issue that has pitted it against the civilian population of Jammu and Kashmir for decades. Major incidents have not even been enquired into, with the Army better known amongst the people for blocking free and just enquiry. The adherence to the ten day time limit, as well as admission of violation of all rules of engagement has come as a surprise.

As did the Army court martial on November 12 that convicted five soldiers for shooting and killing three men in a “fake encounter” in Machil in 2010. The court martial sentenced the soldiers to life imprisonment.