SRINAGAR: A bank official on Wednesday deposed before a court here in connection with the 2006 fake encounter killing of cleric (Imam) Showkat Ahmad Kataria while as the former SSP Hans Raj Parihar,on of the prime accused in the case, was present during the proceedings along with other accused cops and a civilian.
Kataria was killed in 2006 after he went missing from Srinagar’s Zadibal locality where he was leading prayers at a local mosque.
The bank official— Tariq Ahmad—was posted in a bank branch which had issued account statement to one of the accused in 2006 and he deposed as a prosecution witness before the Principal District and Session Judge Srinagar, Rashid Ali Dar. Parrihar, who was last week absent during the trial of fake encounter killing of carpenter Abdul Rahman Padroo, was present during the proceeding along-with other accused who were escorted by police from the central jail Srinagar. Parihar has been released on bail by the high court at Jammu in November last year for twenty days in connection with the marriage of his daughter. Later bail was extended on health reasons.
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 Bandipore 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 killing of Padroo.