More than five months after three Rajouri youths were killed in Shopian in an Army operation on July 18, the J&K Police has filed a chargesheet, accusing an Army Captain and two civilians for their alleged abduction and murder.
The 300-page chargesheet states that a case of murder, abduction and destruction of evidence is “prima facie” established against Captain Bhoopendra Singh and two civilians — Tabish Nazir, a resident of Shopian, and Bilal Ahmad Lone of Pulwama — based on evidence collected during the investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe the alleged fake encounter.
Filed before the Principal Sessions Judge, Shopian, the chargesheet states that the three Rajouri youths – Imtiyaz Ahmad (20) and Mohammad Abrar (16), residents of Dharsakri village,and Abrar Ahmad (25) of Tarkasi village of Kotranka Rajouri – were “abducted” from their rented accommodation in Shopian and then killed.
Both the Army and the J&K Police had earlier claimed that the three youths were unidentified militants and had buried them discreetly in a graveyard in north Kashmir’s Baramulla. On October 3, the J&K government exhumed the bodies of the three labourers killed during the night in the presence of family members and handed them over to the families.
The Indian Express had on Friday reported that the Army had conducted a Summary of Evidence and found an Army officer culpable for the killing of the three Rajouri youths. The next step in the process is a court martial. Earlier, on September 18, the Army’s Court of Inquiry confirmed that the three youths killed were labourers from Rajouri.
The J&K Police chargesheet states, “A vehicle (A-Star) used for the abduction and transportation of the victims was seized as evidence.” The “weapon of offence” of the Army officer has been seized and sent to CFSL, Chandigarh.
According to the chargesheet, the officer and the two civilians have been charged under Section 302 (murder), Section 364 (abduction), Section 201 (destruction of evidence), Section 436, 120-B (criminal conspiracy to commit an offence punishable with death) and Section 182 of Indian Penal Code and Section 7/25 of Indian Arms Act (possession or carrying of prohibited arms or ammunition).
While the accused civilians, Tabish and Bilal, have been arrested and are in judicial custody, the Captain is “yet to be arrested for procedures under AFSAP (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) and the Army Act whereas sanction is also required to be obtained for launching prosecution against him”.
The chargesheet states that the questioning of the two civilians led to the recovery of a Maruti Alto car and some cell phones from the “Victor Force camp Awantipora”. Besides examining all Call Detail Records, it details the planning, abduction of the youth, the routes taken, and prior arrangement of illegal weapons by the accused.
Army officer, the chargesheet stated, misled his officers and colleagues. It states he “furnished false information to mislead the senior officers and for getting lodgment of FIR done to tailor-fit his motive for grabbing prize money in furtherance of criminal conspiracy”.
One of the civilian accused, Bilal Ahmad Lone, turned approver and his statement under Section 164 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) has been recorded. The DNA analysis by CFSL, Chandigarh, post mortem report and the missing report by three Rajouri families led to the identification of the three civilian victims, the chargesheet stated.