The Indian Army has begun an inquiry to ascertain whether any of its Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) were violated after the picture of the body of a militant killed in an encounter being dragged went viral on Friday. The image drew condemnation in the Valley from separatists and human rights activists, who termed the incident "barbaric". On Thursday, three militants were killed in a joint operation by police and army at Kakryal in Jammu's Reasi district.
The Northern Command of the Army is looking into “whether its personnel violated the SOP.” Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said, “Local headquarters has taken note of the incident. It is for them to ensure that SOP is followed and no violations occur.” He added that there was a “well established SOP that even when our own personnel get killed in encounters and we recover their bodies, they have also not to be handled with hands until we confirm that they are not booby-trapped. However, if anyone is found to have violated the SOP, they will be duly punished.”
Army officials said the SOP goes thus: Personnel don't go near the body until it is properly examined by the bomb disposal squad. A senior army official said, “Bomb Disposal Squads (BDS) are deployed with Core of Engineers (CoE). There is at least a one regiment in an army division of 16 to 20 units. We have three army corps in Jammu and Kashmir and each corp has 4 to 5 divisions. Ideally, there should be no dearth of BDS.” Army officials said it is being ascertained if the local army unit involved in the operation took help of the BDS after the encounter. “The BDS is also deployed with a brigade,” added the official.
Human rights activist Mohammad Ahsan Untoo said at least three other such incidents have been reported in Kashmir “which is a gross violation of human rights.” State Human Rights Commission on Saturday—after being alerted to the incident by Untoo—issued a notice to the Director General of Police (DGP) and asked him “to file a reply within a time of four weeks.” The notice was issued by SHRC member Abdul Hamid Wani after Untoo alleged that “the body was desecrated.”
“We have brought three other incidents to the notice of SHRC. Two years ago, two separate incidents were reported in Handwara in which the bodies of militants were dragged. Last year, a militant’s body was also dragged in Tral by army personnel,” Untoo alleged. He added that the Geneva Convention prohibits any “desecration” of bodies.
As per the Convention: “Parties to the conflict shall, without delay, take all possible measures to search for and collect the wounded and sick, to protect them against pillage and ill-treatment, to ensure their adequate care, and to search for the dead and prevent their being despoiled. Whenever circumstances permit, an armistice or a suspension of fire shall be arranged, or local arrangements made, to permit the removal, exchange and transport of the wounded left on the battlefield. Likewise, local arrangements may be concluded between parties to the conflict for the removal or exchange of wounded and sick from a besieged or encircled area, and for the passage of medical and religious personnel and equipment on their way to that area.”
On Thursday, three militants were killed near Vaishno Devi University at Kakriyal in Reasia. At least six army, paramilitary and police personnel were injured in the gunfight. The army said the militants infiltrated from across the border and were proceeding towards Kashmir before they were killed. On Wednesday, the three militants opened fire on a police check post and were later trapped at Kakriyal.
Firstpost has not been able to independently verify the veracity of the photograph.
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Updated Date: Sep 16, 2018 20:18:28 IST