New Delhi: Concerned over local protests after a Jammu and Kashmir teenager, suspected to be a militant, was killed by Army personnel, Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday ordered a probe into the incident.
Overruling the stand taken by the Army against the need for a probe, Antony issued orders that the inquiry be conducted into the killing of 19-year-old Hilal Ahmad Dar in Bandipore district on Tuesday.
"I have told the army to complete the inquiry at the earliest," Antony told reporters here and added that if anybody is found guilty strong action will be taken.
Dar was shot dead in an alleged staged shootout between Army personnel and suspected militants on Tuesday. Villagers and the victim's family said Dar was innocent.
On Wednesday, spontaneous protests broke out in Kashmir after Dar's body was handed over to relatives for burial. About two dozen villagers were injured in clashes with police in Bandipore town when protestors carrying his body shouted anti-government slogans and pelted stones at the security forces.
Antony's decision on a probe comes a day ahead of his visit to the state to review security scenario.
The defence minister is scheduled to leave for Jammu and Kashmir on Friday and interact with soldiers at formations in forward areas during his two-day visit.
He will be accompanied by Army Chief General Bikram Singh and Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma.
Defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar earlier told reporters here that the defence minister had directed the army to take strict action "if anybody is found guilty in the case".
The Bandipore district magistrate has also ordered a magisterial probe into the killing of Dar, who lived in Aloosa village.
Dar's family said he was innocent and killed after the Ramadan evening 'Tarawi' prayers.
However, Srinagar-based 15 Corps General Officer Commanding Lt Gen Om Prakash said that security personnel had recovered weapons from the possession of the teenager killed.
"When a group of militants approached the ambush, they were challenged to surrender, upon which they opened fire on the troops. One person was killed in the encounter from whose possession a weapon has also been recovered," Prakash said.