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JK teen's death: Head constable blames BSF commandant

February 18, 2010 21:57 IST

The noose around the Border Security Force commandant R K Birdi tightened with a head constable recording his statement before a magistrate claiming that the officer had forced a jawan to fire on a 16-year-old boy, whose killing had triggered violent protests in the Kashmir valley.

The police also seized the firing weapon and the three vehicles, which were used by the personnel of the unit at the time of the incident, official sources said.

The seizures were effected after the statement of head constable of the 68 battalion of the BSF, Ram Singh, was recorded before Chief Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Ibrahim Wani over two days, the sources said.

The weapon, which was allegedly used to shot teenager Zahid Farooq dead, has been sent to ballistic experts for tests and the three vehicles of the BSF were seized and taken to a police station where forensic teams would take its tyre samples and match it with those at the crime scene.

Singh began recording his statement before the CJM under the relevant Criminal Procedure Code provision on Wednesday and completed it on Thursday.

According to sources, he has told the CJM that the role of the BSF commandant in the incident was not only limited to his failure to report the matter to his seniors. He claimed that the officer had forced a jawan to fire on the boy.

Constable Lakhvinder Kumar of BSF has been arrested by the police after an internal inquiry found that there was possibility of his involvement in the firing that led to the death of the teenager on February 5.

Kumar, however, told police that he opened firing on the orders of the Commandant Birdi, which he has denied.

Following Kumar's allegation, the Union home ministry has issued suspension order for Birdi, commandant of the 68th Battalion, who has been confined to the local headquarters pending an inquiry by an officer of the rank of inspector general.

The CJM court has also granted permission to the IG BSF, conducting the internal inquiry, to question the arrested constable.

Meanwhile, the force has kept all its personnel who were there at the spot, including the commandant, at separate centres during the period of general court of enquiry being conducted by the paramilitary force.

The step was taken so that the probe was not hampered.

The family of the slain teenager has already accused the BSF of making the constable a scapegoat to save the senior officer.

"We are not satisfied with the arrest of the constable as eyewitnesses told us that an officer of the force actually shot Zahid in the chest after snatching the rifle from one of the jawans," Farooq Ahmad, father of the victim, had said.

The state government has also ordered a probe into the incident and said stern action would be taken against the guilty.
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