New Delhi: The controversial decision of the Army to close the Pathribal fake encounter was raised in the Lok Sabha Thursday with ruling National Conference demanding reopening of the case and punishing the guilty.
Raising the matter during Zero Hour, National Conference Parliament Member from South Kashmir Mehboob Beg said the decision of the Army had “shattered” the hopes of Kashmiri people and the same should be addressed by reopening the case.
The MP, in whose constituency Pathribal area falls, wondered how it is possible that the same set of people is found guilty by CBI, the country’s premier probe agency, and Army claims there was no evidence.
“CBI had initiated a case to probe the veracity of the encounter and it found that the five killed were unarmed civilians. Army claimed they were terrorists but they were just unarmed civilians, a fact established by CBI…
“…the case should be reopened to punish the guilty,” Beg said.
The army had last month announced that it was closing the Pathribal case against its five personnel due to “lack of evidence”. The incident had taken place on March 25, 2000.
The five personnel — the then Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt Col Brajendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan — were chargesheeted by CBI which alleged the Pathribal encounter was a “cold-blooded murder”.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah, state’s political parties and general public reacted sharply to army’s decision and have been demanding reconsideration of closure of the case.
Omar had taken up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his recent visit to Jammu.
Beg said if the case is not brought to a reasonable conclusion, then the confidence of the people of Kashmir would be shattered.
On January 23 this year, the army decided to close the case against its men and submitted a report to the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Srinagar claiming there was no evidence against the then Brigadier.
CBI alleged the encounter was staged due to pressure on Army to perform after terrorists had struck in a big way by killing 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora on March 20, 2000, a day before US President Bill Clinton was to arrive in India.
CBI, in its charge sheet, had alleged the incident was a ‘cold-blooded murder’ and charged the five soldiers with offences including criminal conspiracy, murder and kidnapping in 2006.
Army had contended CBI could not file a charge sheet against its men citing section 7 of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, a provision which provides immunity from prosecution to members of security forces unless permission to prosecute in a civilian court is sought from the central government.
In May 2012, the Supreme Court had given Army the option to hand over the accused army personnel to civilian courts or to try them by court-martial. However, 18 months later, Army announced the case is closed citing “lack of evidence”.