Sunday, March 29, 2015

Retd Lt Gen says will write to Chief about Army role in Hashimpura

Reacting online to reports on the Hashimpura massacre in The Sunday Express, and particularly the eyewitness account of photographer Praveen Jain, a former General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Army’s Northern and Central Commands, Lt Gen H S Panag (retd), has tweeted that he would write to the Chief of the Army Staff seeking an investigation into the Army’s role in the infamous incident.

Lt Gen Panag tweeted the link to a video posted on YouTube by The Indian Express of Jain’s first person account, along with photographs that he had taken during the Army and police operation in Hashimpura in 1987. “Ashamed in 87 [the year the massacre happened], more ashamed now as was not aware of the dubious role of the IA [Indian Army]. Salute to Praveen Jain!” Lt Gen Panag posted on Twitter.

A sessions court on March 21 acquitted the 16 surviving PAC personnel accused in the massacre of 42 Muslims in Hashimpura. Jain, Associate Photo Editor of The Indian Express, went back to Hashimpura after 28 years, with black and white prints of pictures that he had shot on May 22, 1987, hours before the killings.

Lt Gen Panag went on to say that photos did not lie, and that exceptions proved the rule. “Have never seen such actions before as the photos show,” he tweeted. He also wrote that all records regarding the units involved would be available with the military operations directorate of the Army and that even if this was an exception, it deserved to be investigated. “Never seen such disturbing photos of Indian Army,” he tweeted.

As he was criticised on Twitter for his comments on the Army’s role, Lt Gen Panag said that he would “write to the Chief”. When contacted for details of what he might say, Lt Gen Panag said, “Let it remain confidential.” The General also sought to distinguish between the role of the PAC and that of the Army by tweeting that these were two different issues, and that PAC’s case related to the massacre while the Army’s misconduct was a fallout of the incident, and that the “photos tell the tale”.