The Army must cooperate fully with Jammu & Kashmir state police investigations into the shooting and killings of Faisal Yusuf Bhat and Mehrajuddin Dar, and injury of two others in Budgam, Kashmir on 3 November. If sufficient evidence is found, suspects must be prosecuted in a civilian court, and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act must not be used to shield soldiers from prosecution.
The Army said in a statement that it had received intelligence on 3 November that militants were travelling along the Nowgam-Pulwama highway in a white Maruti car. The Army set up barricades. At 5 pm, the Army stated, a white Maruti car refused to stop at the first two checkpoints, forcing army personnel to fire upon the vehicle at the third checkpoint, resulting in the death of two people, and serious injury of two others.
The J&K state police have filed a First Information Report and begun an investigation into the incident. The Army has also announced that it has established a Court of Inquiry – a military investigation - into the incident and that those found guilty will be “dealt with severely”.
Amnesty International has documented cases since 1990, including the killing of an 18 year-old boy in Ganderbal district in 2013, in which the Army has refused to cooperate with police investigations, and failed to hold its personnel accountable for human rights violations based on the findings of Courts of Inquiry. Courts of Inquiry are known to sometimes be based solely on testimony from army personnel and contradict the findings of independent police investigations, and have contributed in the past to impunity for security forces in J&K.
Amnesty International India urges the Indian government to ensure that the police investigation into this incident is taken to its logical end by civilian authorities, and that those responsible are brought to justice in fair trials meeting international standards in civilian courts.
Amnesty International India also urges authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to respect and protect the right to life in accordance with the Constitution of India and international law. Standard procedures on the use of firearms should be developed which are aligned with international standards. Firearms should only be used as a last resort, and the intentional lethal use of firearms must only be employed when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.