An Army officer of the rank of Major has been found culpable in the killing of three Rajouri labourers, who security forces initially claimed were terrorists, in Shopian district of J&K in July this year, The Indian Express has learnt.
The three, one of them a 16-year-old, had gone to the Valley from their hometown Rajouri, looking for work. They were killed in Amshipora, a village in Shopian district, in the early hours of July 18.
In September, a Court of Inquiry found prima facie evidence that “powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded” and the “dos and don’ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court have been contravened”.
The Summary of Evidence that followed was completed last week, and it found that the Major should be tried under various sections.
The recommendations of the Summary of Evidence have been forwarded to Lt Gen Y K Joshi, GOC-in-C, Northern Command, sources told The Indian Express. The next step in the process is a court martial.
A Defence spokesperson said Thursday: “The process of recording the ‘summary of evidence’ has been completed. The same is being examined by the concerned authorities in consultation with legal advisors for proceeding further.
Indian Army is committed to ethical conduct of operations. Further details will be shared in a manner so as not to prejudice the proceedings under Army law.”
The Amshipora incident took place in the early hours of July 18. A Major and two soldiers of 62 Rashtriya Rifles formed the initial encounter party, and were later reinforced by teams of the J&K Police and CRPF.
On July 19, the Commander of 12 Sector RR held a press conference to announce that three terrorists had been killed in the encounter, which had taken place following a cordon-and-search operation in Amshipora on “specific input” to the 62 RR unit about the presence of terrorists in the village.
The Army gave a detailed account saying the security forces had been fired upon, that there was exchange of fire, and during the recovery of bodies, they had found arms, ammunition and IED material at the hideout.
This version began unravelling when a family in Rajouri filed a missing person’s complaint in August about three of its family members – Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohd Ibrar – who had travelled to Kashmir to look for employment in July, and were in touch with them over mobile phones until July 16. The family had been unable to contact them thereafter.
According to the family, they had seen photographs of the bodies from the encounter, and had identified them as their three missing members.
This led to an uproar in the Valley as well in Rajouri, and in the Gujjar community. The Army set up a Court of Inquiry, while the police carried out their own investigation.
The men had been buried at a graveyard in Baramulla, where unidentified militants suspected to have infiltrated from Pakistan, are interred. Their bodies were exhumed in October for DNA tests, which confirmed the family’s claims.
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