Army announcement ‘baffles’ Amnesty

Srinagar: Amnesty International on Friday termed as “baffling” the Indian Army’s clean chit to five of its men by closing the infamous Pathribal fake encounter killing of 2000.
“The Indian Army’s recent statements declaring ‘zero tolerance for human rights violations’ in Jammu and Kashmir ring hollow after its decision to close the Pathribal fake encounter case,” Christine Mehta, spokesperson of Amnesty’s Indian chapter said in a statement.
India’s premier investigation agency, the CBI in 2006 had indicted 7 Rashtriya Rifles’s Brig Ajay Saxena, Lt. Col. Brajendra Pratap Singh, Maj. Sourabh Sharma, Maj. Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan for the brutal murder of the five civilians.
“The Army’s decision to conduct its own investigation, which it now claims did not find sufficient evidence against the accused soldiers, is baffling,” Mehta said, asserting that Army’s closure of the case “brazenly disregards” the findings of the CBI and the rights of the families of the victims.
In May 2012, the CBI, during the course of a hearing in Supreme Court of India, had maintained to have sufficient evidence to show that the civilian killings were extrajudicial executions and ‘cold-blooded murder’.
Mehta said the government of India was under obligation under national and international law to investigate human rights violations in a swift, independent and impartial manner.
“Authorities must take cognizance of the Army’s failure to prosecute its personnel for serious human rights violations.”
They must ensure that those soldiers suspected of criminal responsibility, as established in a previous independent investigation conducted by the CBI, are promptly brought to trial, she said.
“Delayed or incomplete investigations, or failure to try the accused in a fair, impartial and independent court, violates the rights of the victims’ families to justice, and contributes to the prevailing climate of impunity in J&K,” Mehta added.