After facing severe criticism on the closure of Pathribal fake encounter case, the army is likely to order a fresh probe into the tragedy. On January 23, 2013 the army said it has closed the Pathribal case because the evidence recorded could not establish a prime-facie case against any of the accused. Because” as evidence recorded by it clearly established that it was a joint operation by the Police and Army.” This was eight years after the CBI had charged five Army men, including four officers and a JCO, with the murder of the five persons on April 3, 2000. The CBI accused were Brigadier Ajay Sexena, Lt. Col.Barajendera Pratab Singh, Major Sourabh Idrees Khan. The CBI sought exemplary punishment for the accused.
The contention here is not why the army has closed the case which would imply that army as the accused party could punish itself by pronouncing judgments against its own men. The case was flawed and lost on the very day when the supreme court gave army the choice in 2012 either to try the accused in a civil court or court martial them. It was a boon for the army because they could not throw away such an opportunity of actually abdicating its responsibility to punish the murderers of five civilians who were expecting exemplary punishment. Since justice in a civilian court could never equalise or be an alternative to court-martial which in any way is an in house disciplinary action. Because the civilians were murdered by the army, it is not expected to sit on judgment on itself. It would be in the words of famous Urdu poet and thinker Faiz Ahamd Faiz to make murders the judge.
Proceedings under Criminal law in a civilian court cannot be equated to a court martial by an organization whose men stand accused. Thus Supreme Court’s direction was strictly in accordance with the procedural laws but the army could have opted for a trial in an open civil court to uphold the principles of natural justice.
At this point of the time, the army has actually opened the case afresh by closing it because it once again is in limelight and the credibility of the army has evoked severe criticism from various quarters including reputed human rights organisations.
In addition, the army has brought into lime light the fact that police is as much to blame as the army since it was a joint operation which at that time was claimed by the police’s SOG group as well. This should actually put the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in an embarrassing position because as per his recent Tweet, he is deeply disturbed by the Army’s closure of the case. And he asked the law department to examine the case and has also decided to meet Union Ministers on the issue. But what action he has taken against the police force of the sate involved in the crime? The SOG group comprising both the state police man and the CRPF personnel were involved in another grave and dastardly crime of killing seven persons at Brakpora. So far what action state government has taken against them?
Pathribal fake encounter is not a usual massacre. Actually it comprises a part of series of massacres which could rate as worst events in human history. First it was march 20,2000 when 36 members of sikh community were murdered in cold blood by the forces on the eve of visit of United Sates President Bill Clinton. Four days later, to hide the crime , five youth from different villages were killed after being dubbed as foreign militants responsible for the massacre of Sikhs. It happened on March 25, 2000 at Pathribal. Days later on April 3, 2000 when few thousand people from various villages were protesting against the Killing of local youth dubbed as foreign militants, they were stopped by CRPF and SOG men at Brokpora and fired upon. Seven persons died on the spot and scores sustained injuries.
All the three massacres are interlinked and part of one story. So far justice has been denied to the victims (Sikhs and Muslims). Commenting on Pathribal case, the Amenesty International aptly said” Given the evidence that existed against soldiers, the army’s decision to conduct a new probe into the case is baffling.” In fact there is no need of probe by the army and more intriguing was the decision of the Supreme Court in 2012. On one hand are three grim massacres of Chitisinghpora, Pathribal and Brakpora and on the other hand were three major institutions of the State, the Army, the CBI and the Supreme Court. The Army is accused , CBI demanding exemplary punishment for the criminals and the Supreme court passed over its responsibility . This in fact shows how major institutions of Indian state are functioning while dealing with minorities particularly the Sikhs and Muslims. In fact all the three massacres have been opened to the conscience of humanity by way of closing the Pathribal fake encounter case. The truth is bitter but is evident that major institutions of the State has been infested with anti- Muslim animus which is in some measure not less than racist attitude. Regarding a particular community the institutions of power and justice do not simply exist or work. Justice on the basis of citizenship and democracy simply does not exist.