By Aqib Ahmad
New Delhi: The families of the five men who were murdered in a staged gunfight by army in Pathribal area of Islamabad district in 2000 have moved the Supreme Court of India, pleading for resumption of proceedings before the CBI court, after the army disclosed that no Court of Inquiry had been conducted into the killings.
The plea by Nazir Ahmad Dalal and others is likely to come up hearing again on January 23.
In the first hearing on 7 October this year, a division bench of the apex court comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Uday Umesh Lalit had sought assistance of the counsel for government of India in the case.
“In view of the submission, let a copy of the petition be served on the Central Agency so that counsel appearing on behalf of the Union of India can assist us,” the court had said.
The family has filed the plea against the J&K High Court’s April 27 order dismissing the families’ petition seeking criminal court proceeding before CBI court here in the cold-blooded murder of the five civilians on 25 March 2000.
In 2006, the Central Bureau of Investigation 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 murder of the five civilians, three of whom were claimed by army as Pakistani militants responsible for the massacre of 36 Sikhs at Chittisingpora on 20 March 2000. Two other slain were claimed to be unknown militants by the army.
The CBI probe was ordered by the state government and based on DNA tests, the premier investigation agency of India concluded that the bodies were of Zahoor Ahmad Dalal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Mohammad Yousuf Malik, Jumma Khan Son Amirullah Khan and Jumma Khan Son of Faqirullah Khan, all local villagers.
In 2012, the Supreme Court issued directions to army to hold a trial of the accused either through court-martial or criminal court.
On 20 January 2014, the Army via a communication informed the Chief Judicial Magistrate Srinagar that no prima facie case was made against its accused men following a “court martial” by it.
In their plea, the families of the victims had contended that army did not conduct court martial but “lightly dismissed the serious charges filed by CBI against the accused at the pre-trial stage, through summary of evidence.”
Nazir Ahmad Dalal, maternal uncle of Zahoor Ahmad Dalal, who was one of the victims of the infamous encounter, and IGP Kashmir, had filed an application before CJM Srinagar in 2014, seeking directions to army to provide its ‘court martial’ judgment exonerating its accused army men.
The CJM had dismissed the plea, saying that they ‘have no locus standi.’
Last month, the Army revealed before Central Information Commission (CIC) that it did not conduct CoI into the killings.
“There was no such Court of Inquiry and therefore information is not available as such to be provided,” the Army’s Central Public Information Officer had told CIC.