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J&K: Amnesty demands criminal investigation into ‘encounter’ killing of youth

"Army authorities must co-operate with the investigation, and not try to shield soldiers from prosecution," said Amnesty International.

Written by Adil Akhzer | Srinagar |
April 16, 2015 8:14:45 pm
Kashmiri Muslim villagers carry the body of Khaled Muzaffar, a civilian during his funeral procession in Tral, some 38 Kilometers (24 miles) south of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Violent protests erupted in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir on Tuesday after a civilian and a militant were killed in an encounter with the army, officials in the troubled Himalayan region said. Relatives and angry locals say the civilian was actually tortured to death. (Source: AP) Kashmiri Muslim villagers carry the body of Khaled Muzaffar, a civilian during his funeral procession in Tral, some 38 Kilometers (24 miles) south of Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Violent protests erupted in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir on Tuesday after a civilian and a militant were killed in an encounter with the army, officials in the troubled Himalayan region said. Relatives and angry locals say the civilian was actually tortured to death. (Source: AP)

Three days after army killed a civilian in an “encounter” in South Kashmir’s Tral town, international human rights group Amnesty International has demanded an “independent criminal investigation” into the killing.

“The Jammu and Kashmir government must ensure a swift, thorough and impartial investigation to determine if Khalid Muzaffar Wani was killed in an extrajudicial execution. They must also look into the family’s claims that he was targeted because of his brother’s suspected links with a banned armed group,” Shemeer Babu, Amnesty International (AI) India programmes director, said in a statement. “If sufficient evidence is found, those suspected must be prosecuted in a civilian court. Army authorities must co-operate with the investigation, and not try to shield soldiers from prosecution.”

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The army on Monday had said that a “militant” was killed “in an encounter” in the forests of Tral area. However, the slain later turned out to be a civilian, identified as Khalid Muzaffar, brother of a Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani.

The army also said that Khalid was an ‘overground worker’ for the Hizbul Mujahedeen, and was killed “in a gun battle with army personnel.”

Quoting, Khalid’s father Mohammed Muzaffar Wani; the statement said, “he (Khalid’s father) believed his son was killed because his brother was suspected of being a member of the Hizbul Mujahedeen.”

“The UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions require that ‘[t]here shall be thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions, including cases where…reliable reports suggest unnatural death in the above circumstances,” said the statement.

It further said that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act(AFSPA) provides security force personnel “with sweeping powers, and virtual immunity from prosecution by requiring prior permission from the central government before they can be prosecuted.”

“The law has facilitated grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and torture and other ill- treatment. Amnesty International India continues to call for the repeal of the law,” it said.

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