Lieutenant General of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha said “mistakes happen" but India is the kind of nation where “nobody needs to remind us" about our mistakes. Responding to questions over a ‘fake’ encounter in Shopian, Sinha also said the Army had earned a lot of goodwill through its drives for education and development in the valley.
“I am greatly indebted to the Indian army and our commanders. I spoke to the Army officers over there and I want to tell you with great responsibility the sort of goodwill the Army has there, especially in border areas — where there isn’t as much development, for their education, for their development — it has made great attempts. ‘Galti ho jaati hai’," Sinha said.
On July 18, the Army claimed that three militants were killed in Amshipura village in the higher reaches of south Kashmir’s Shopian district. However, after the family of three missing labourers from Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir alleged that the missing trio were killed in a staged encounter, the Army initiated an inquiry.
The probe was completed in a record four-week time and on September 18, the force said it has found “prima facie evidence" that its troops “exceeded" powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the encounter. Disciplinary proceedings were initiated soon after.
Speaking exclusively to News18, Sinha added that “we are the kind of state that if we have made a mistake, we accept it. No one else is required to tell us.”
He also said that he has given a new slogan to the local police, “Behgunah ko chhedo mat aur gunahgaar ko chhodo mat (Don’t trouble the innocent and don’t spare the guilty).”
Sinha said terrorism in Punjab, effectively tackled by Indian forces, was finally curbed when people at large stopped supporting it. He said that in Kashmir he was working to the same end.
Many observers of the valley, including Army veterans, criticised the “human rights violations” in the region. Among then was Lt Gen (retired) HS Panag, who in an opinion piece wrote –
“That one of our best Rashtriya Rifles (RR) units — the 62 RR — was involved in the alleged fake encounter raises very disturbing questions about the approach of the security forces towards upholding human rights in the Valley. The conduct of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Police, which under a political government, would conduct an independent inquiry in similar suspicious cases, is also under the scanner. The military hierarchy, instead of acting as a watchdog for human rights, too, seems to have become complicit.”