SRINAGAR: A cleric (imam) was cross examined by defence counsel accused in the 2006 fake encounter killing of Imam Showkat Ahmad Kataria, before a court here on Wednesday.
The cross examination of the Imam, Showkat Ahmad Bohru, took place before the Principal District and Sessions Judge Srinagar, Rashid Ali Dar. A resident of Banihal, Bohru stated that Kataria was known to him and he had close ties with Mohammad Ashraf, a civilian accused who wanted to lead prayers at Zadibal mosque.
Kataria was killed in 2006 after he went missing from Zadibal locality in old Srinagar, where he was leading prayers at a local mosque. According to SIT, which probed the killing, Kataria was picked up by a joint party of Special Operations Group of Ganderbal police and 13 Rashtriya Rifles. A resident of Doligam-Jabdi, Banihal, Kataria was later killed and dubbed a Pakistani Jaish-e-Mohammad militant. His body was exhumed from Bazipora-Ajas in Bandipore on February 3, 2007. His identity was later established after DNA tests.
The SIT filed a chargesheet against 11 persons, including five policemen and as many army men and the cleric Mohammad Ashraf for the cold blooded murder.
While the policemen and the civilian 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 former SSP of Ganderbal Hans Raj Parihar, former DSP Bahadur Ram, ASI Farooq Ahmad Gudoo and Constables Tariq Ahmad Lone and Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Mohammad Ashraf.