BSF Commandant’s criminal involvement established
13 cops reveal to IO how Birdi ordered and Lakhwinder gunned down teenager at Nishat
AHMED ALI FAYYAZ
SRINAGAR, Feb 13: Superintendent of Police East, V K Birdi, who is investigating the broad daylight murder of Zahid Farooq Sheikh of Brain Nishat, has established the criminal involvement of BSF Commandant, R K Birdi, as all 13 eyewitnesses of the paramilitary force today deposed that the detained accused, Constable Lakhwinder Kumar, had fired upon the teenager on the orders of his officer. The statements recorded by the Investigating Officer (IO) have made it clear that BSF’s Special Director General, P P S Sidhu, had doled out lies at his news conference here the other day to shield the real criminal of the gruesome killing.
Well-placed sources revealed to Early Times that the IO today recorded statements of all 13 eyewitnesses of the paramilitary force which led to establishment of the BSF Commandant R K Birdi’s criminal involvement in Zahid Farooq’s broad daylight killing. Zahid had been fired upon by a party of BSF 68 Bn in close vicinity of the office of IG CRPF at Brain, Nishat, on the banks of Dal Lake here on February 5th. On February 10th, BSF identified one Constable Lakhwinder Kumar as the man who had fired upon and killed the 16-year-old student and handed him over to Police. On this occasion, BSF’s Special DG, P P S Sidhu, had claimed at a news conference here that others of the party, including the Commanding Officer, had no knowledge of Lakhwinder having opened fire on the group of youngsters.
Sources said that the uniformed eyewitnesses’ statements were recorded today under section 161 CrPC. Senior Police officials, including IGP Kashmir Farooq, Ahmed, and SSP Srinagar, Javed Reyaz Bedar, were also present for some time. Detained accused Constable Lakhwinder’s AK-47 rifle has been seized. It has been observed during investigation that Lakhwinder had fired a burst but only two rounds came out of his rifle. Striking on the target with precise aim, Lakhwinder fired on the fleeing student. He was hit in his back and the bullet came out through his chest. One of Lakhwinder’s colleagues had dropped a round of his INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifle which was later seized and handed over to Police.
Today’s statements made it clear that BSF Commandant’s cavalcade comprised of three vehicles---a white colour Bolero, a white colour bullet-proof Gypsy and a blue clour 407. There were total of 15 personnel, including Commandant Birdi and Constable Lakhwinder, in the party that was returning after the officer’s mandatory medical check at a BSF Hospital at Humhama. As exclusively detailed by Early Times in its February 11th issue, Commandant’s movement of the eventful day was tracked by Police with the help of BSNL towers that handled his calls and a CCTV near IG CRPF’s office that had clearly recorded the motorcade’s movement.
It has now become clear that even after the 16-year-old boy was hit from behind, six to eight BSF personnel chased him till he and two of his cricket team-mates reached very close to their residential houses in the locality. Thereafter, Zahid Farooq collapsed. He was rushed to SMHS Hospital where doctors found him critically injured and referred him to SKIMS. He succumbed to injuries in minutes of his admission at SKIMS.
Informed sources revealed that all 13 of the BSF personnel, questioned by the IO and SP East, V K Birdi, corroborated what Lakhwinder as also a civilian eyewitness Bilal had narrated in the last three days. With that corroboration, Commandant R K Birdi’s criminal involvement was established. The eyewitnesses invariably narrated that Constable Lakhwinder opened fire only after his Commandant, R K Birdi, who was in his PT dress (white trousers, white T-shirt and white jacket) ordered him to bump off the youngster. They also stated that it was an over-reaction to some catcalling from the youngsters and there was no provocation like an attack with firearms or stone pelting on the BSF cavalcade.
Sources said that even after things had become fully clear, IO would conclude Commandant Birdi’s criminal involvement in the matter with some other formalities in a couple of days. Even as the Commandant has not been formally taken into custody for questioning in the matter, sources said that he had been attached to the office of IG BSF and directed to remain present at Pantachowk as IG BSF would conduct a departmental inquiry.
“There’s prima facie no misconduct liability. Mr Birdi’s criminal liability has already been established. But BSF headquarters had directed IG (BSF) to conduct a departmental inquiry before the accused officer is passed on to either Police or BSF’s own court of inquiry in a few days”, one of the well placed sources said. He said that P P S Sidhu had made a factually incorrect at his press conference inspite knowing that all members of the BSF party had revealed during their in-house questioning that Lakhwinder had opened fire on the orders of his commandant.