Army stopped cab, asked me to drop driver at camp: Witness tells court

Army stopped cab, asked me to drop driver at camp: Witness  tells court

2006 fake encounter case

SRINAGAR: A load carrier driver who was stopped by army and asked to drop a cab (sumo) driver near an army camp in Safapora on the night Showkat Kataria was abducted from his rented room in Zadibal deposed before the court today.
Bashir Ahmed Kuchay told the court that he was stopped by army at Sumbal in late hours, and told to drop another man – a cab driver who has been stopped before him – near the army camp in Safapora.
The cab driver has already deposed before the court that his vehicle was taken by the army and he was asked to wait at Safapora camp, where he was dropped by the load carrier driver.
The cab driver spent the night at Safapora and received his vehicle the next day.
The prosecution contends that Kataria was abducted in the same cab that night and later killed at Ganderbal.
Kataria was killed in 2006 after he went missing from Srinagar’s Zadibal locality where he was leading prayers at a local mosque.
Kuchay, who drives a truck (tipper) presently, is the 54th prosecution witness to depose before court.
The prime accused ex-SSP Parrihar, who is out on bail, skipped the hearing for the third time on Saturday.
According to SIT, which probed the killing, Kataria was picked up by a joint party of Special Operation Group of Ganderbal police and 13 Rashtriya Rifles. A resident of Doligam-Jabdi, Banihal, Kataria was later killed and dubbed as a Pakistani Jaish-e-Mohammad militant.
His body was exhumed from Bazipora-Ajas in Bandipora on February 3, 2007, and his identity was established through DNA testing.
The SIT filed a chargesheet against 11 persons, including five
policemen and as many army soldiers besides a civilian, a cleric, who wanted to lead prayers at Zadibal, for the cold blooded murder.
While the policemen and the civilians were arrested, the army refused to hand over its accused soldiers, questioning the civil administrations authority to probe its men under AFSPA, the draconian law affording blanket immunity to Indian armed forces in Kashmir.
In October 2009, the court had framed charges of murder, criminal conspiracy and abduction against the former SSP Hans Raj Parihar, former DSP Bahadur Ram, ASI Farooq Ahmad Gudoo and Constables Tariq Ahmad Lone and Manzoor Ahmad Malik and the civilian Mohammad Ashraf.
As per the SIT, Mohammad Ashraf, a resident of Choont Waliwar Ganderbal, who intended to lead the prayers at Zadibal, had hatched a conspiracy with constable Tariq Ahmad Lone of Kupwara to eliminate Kataria.
Lone informed Gudoo, who was in charge SOG camp Ganderbal, about the plan and finally the preparations were finalized with SSP Parihar and DSP Bahadur Ram, the SIT said.
The cops contacted army’s Vikram Singh and others and plan was executed as SOG and the military kidnapped Kataria from the mosque on the fateful day and later killed him in fake encounter at Ajas Bandipora. Kataria was passed off as Pakistani militant ‘Abu Zahid’.
The plan, according to SIT, was revealed before it by ASI Farooq Ahmad Gudoo during the investigation of the fake encounter killings.

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