Guilty Responsible For Poonch Civilian Killings Will ‘Definitely Be Punished’: Official

On December 27, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he had full faith in the Indian Army that it will wipe out terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir.

Protest against Poonch terrorist attack

The Army is conducting an internal probe into the death of three civilians in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir and those found guilty will "definitely be punished," a senior government functionary said on Tuesday.

Three civilians, aged between 27 and 42, were found dead on December 22 after they were allegedly picked up by the Army for questioning in connection with a terrorist ambush a day before that left four soldiers dead in Poonch district.

The deaths sparked public outrage, prompting the authorities to announce compensation for their families.

"The Army is conducting its own investigation. If anyone is found to be guilty, they will definitely be punished. But such an investigation is not to be disclosed publicly. Let the Army do its work. There is no need to prejudge anything or make any comment on the Army," the official quoted by PTI said.

The official said the Army itself said that it would conduct the investigation and hence everyone should have faith in it.

On December 27, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he had full faith in the Indian Army that it will wipe out terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir, even as he urged the troops to not make such "mistakes" that may hurt the citizens of the country.

It is the responsibility of the troops to win the hearts of the people while performing their duty towards the security of the nation, Singh had said.

Soon after the three civilians were found dead and a few others were injured, video clips purportedly showing their torture went viral on social media.

The Army has initiated a Court of Inquiry and police lodged a murder case against unidentified persons.

"...after terror incident at DKG (Dhera Ki Gali) on December 21, Army troops carried out searches in Topa Peer in Buffliaz for the terrorists who escaped after the attack. During searches, Army troops detained a few local youths for questioning, reportedly three such youths namely Safeer Ahmad, Mohd Showkat and Shabir Ahmad succumbed to injuries.

"As such, cognizable offence under section 302 IPC is made out. On this information instant case stands registered. As the instant case is of special nature...special report will be submitted separately as investigation is taken up," an official said quoting the FIR.

A brigadier-level officer was shifted and action was being taken against three officers of 48 Rashtriya Rifles as the Army took serious note of the allegation of custodial torture.

The counter-insurgency unit of the Army was in the news for wrong reasons in October last year as well when one of its major-rank officers opened fire on his colleagues and exploded grenades inside the Neeli post camp near Thanamandi, leaving five personnel including three officers injured.