Kashmir interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma to visit Shopian a month after 3 killed in firing incident
Dineshwar Sharma, the home ministry’s special representative to Jammu and Kashmir, will visit the state on 22 February and spend the night at Shopian, where three civilians were killed last month, as part of the government’s efforts to reach out to residents of the district, a senior home ministry official said.
The civilians were killed when an Indian army unit opened fire at protesters in Ganawpora village last month.
The official, who asked not to be identified, said that while the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has been briefed about the incident by concerned officers , “it was equally important for the locals to express their side of the story”.
“The government is keen on meeting locals of the district as well as of the village where the firing took place. Everyone, including the families of those who died during the incident will be welcomed if they decide to meet (Sharma) and discuss the issues at hand,” added the official
Following the incident, which took place on January 27 , the Indian army said that it had no option but to open fire in response to unprovoked and intense stone pelting. Locals claim the army opened fire after an altercation over attempts to remove posters of a slain militant in the village.
The J&K police filed an FIR after the firing, naming Major Aditya Kumar in the case. However after Kumar’s father moved the Supreme Court, demanding that the FIR registered against his son be quashed, a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud restrained the police from taking any “coercive steps” against the army officers including Major Aditya Kumar.
“We have received reports about growing anger in the region over the issue. The special representative’s mandate is to conduct a sustained peace dialogue with all stake holders in Jammu and Kashmir and the latest visit is part of the same effort,” the home ministry official said.
Sharma will also take up other issues during his visit -- including recent cases of Kashmir youth joining fidayeen ranks of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfits.
Sharma confirmed that he will be visiting the state on Thursday but did not confirm that he would be meeting the families of the deceased civilians. Sharma is likely to be briefed about the incident by local police and other security and intelligence agencies based in the valley.
SP Vaid, the Director General of Jammu and Kashmir police, said the “anger among Shopian residents over the firing incident had already being addressed by the filing of an FIR but a central government intervention is a welcome step”.
“The investigation in the case is ongoing. Meanwhile our boys (the J&K police) are in the field talking to youth of Shopian. We have already undertaken confidence building measures to ensure peace and calm in the district.,” he added