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J&K: Indian Army Officer, Two Others Accused in Fake Encounter of 3 Rajouri Youth

Anees Zargar |
The three slain youth were given discreet burial as mandated for all ‘militants’ during the pandemic; their families recognised the youths only when their photos surfaced on social media.
encounter J&K.

File Photo.

Srinagar: An Indian Army officer and two others have been accused of staging an encounter of three labourers in South Kashmir’s Shopian earlier in July this year, according to a chargesheet filed by the police in the incident.

The chargesheet was filed in the court of the Principal District and Sessions Judge Shopian on Saturday by the head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was constituted by the Jammu and Kashmir police after the claims of fake encounter of three labourers surfaced following the incident on July 18.

The police said a conspiracy was hatched by Captain Bhoopendra Singh of Army’s Rashtriya Rifles 62 battalion and two others identified as Tabish Nazir Malik of Chowgam area in Shopian and Bilal Ahmed Lone, a resident of Pulwama, to stage an “encounter” of three persons, all residents of Rajouri. The three Rajouri youth had arrived in Kashmir valley as labourers, but were reported missing by their respective families after losing communication with them.

A month after the trio – Imtiyaz Ahmed (25), Abrar Ahmad (20) and Ibrar Ahmad (17) – were killed in the Amshipora encounter, their families claimed that they had been falsely passed off as militants. The forces had claimed that two pistols with two magazines and four empty pistol cartridges, 15 live cartridges and 15 empty cartridges of AK series weapon and other “objectionable items” were recovered from the encounter site.

The families recognised their kin after pictures of the slain surfaced on social media.

The three youth, who remain unidentified until then, were buried over 100 km away in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district as a part of a procedure to give discreet burials to all the “militants” killed in operations since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

The youth had taken an arduous journey on foot to travel from Rajouri to Shopian and rented a room in Shopian’s Chowgam village, close to the local army camp a day before they were killed.

According to the Army’s defense spokesperson, the process of recording the “summary of evidence” has now been completed. “The same is being examined by the concerned authorities in consultation with legal advisors for proceeding further,” the official said.

The J&K police in its statement issued on Sunday said that after following information from Rajouri about the missing youth, a police party from Shopian was deputed for collection of DNA samples from the claimant families, which was sent to Central Forensic Science Laboratory, Chandigarh, for analysis and comparison. The three accused were arrested after the DNA samples matched.

“They deliberately and purposefully chose not to follow SOPs, they planted illegally acquired weapons and material on their (the three youth’s) dead bodies after stripping them of their identities and tagged them as hardcore terrorists in possession of war-like stores and deliberately providing false information to colleagues/senior,” the police said.

The statements of as many as 49 witnesses were recorded and a total of 75 witnesses were listed under the list of witness annexed with the challan, according to the police statement.

During the investigation, the charges under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, Section 7/27 Arms Act, Section 16 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against the slain youths were dropped. Further, offences under Sections 302, 364, 201, 436, 120-B, and 182 of IPC and Section 7/25 of IA Act against the accused were established.

The police statement added, “An order has been issued by Court asking the Army Authorities under relevant sections of law to give their opinion whether the accused Captain Bhoopendra Singh of 62 RR be tried by the Criminal Court of ordinary jurisdiction or by the Court Martial.”

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