Hearing was to be held 6 weeks after Aug 18; families of victims to meet for prayers today
Anantnag: Eighteen years have gone by since their kin were allegedly murdered and passed off as militants by the army in what has come to be known as the Pathribal Fake Encounter, but the families of the victims have not yet given up their legal battle for justice.
After their plea for a CBI probe into the Pathribal killings was dismissed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the families moved to the Supreme Court of India in August last year. On August 18, a bench comprising Justices Deepak Mishra (now the Chief Justice of India), AM Khanwilkar, and MM Shantanagoudar had listed the case for “final disposal” after six weeks.
Not six weeks but six months have passed, yet there has been no hearing in the Supreme Court on the case.
Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, appearing for one of the victim families, said that the army and the government have filed their replies, responding to Supreme Court notices.
“But there has been no hearing so far. I know the case is listed but there has been no hearing. I hope a hearing is scheduled soon,” Ramakrishnan told Kashmir Reader over phone.
Back in Anantnag, the families say they have no faith that justice will be delivered to them, but still they won’t give up the fight.
“We have been fighting for more than 18 years now. If justice had to come, it would have and it should have come by now,” Rasheed Khan, the son of one of the victims, Jumma Khan, said.
He, however, said that his dwindling faith does not mean he won’t fight for justice.
Shakoor Khan, the son of another Jumma Khan who was also killed in the alleged fake encounter, says he will follow the case to its logical conclusion.
“I, too, do not feel that justice is round the corner, but it (justice) can come from unexpected quarters. Allah is merciful,” Shakoor said.
The case goes back to March 25, 2000, when the army claimed to have killed 5 militants in Pathribal area who it said were involved in the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Chattisingpora area of Anantnag district a few days ago.
The slain, however, turned out to be civilians, residents of different areas in Anantnag district.
After a DNA test, the slain civilians were identified as Zahoor Ahmad Dalal; Jumma Khan, son of Ameerullah Khan; Jumma Khan, son of Faqirullah Khan; Bashir Ahmad Bhat; and Muhammad Yousuf Malik.
The CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) in 2006 indicted five army men of the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) for killing five innocent local civilians and dubbing them as “Pakistani Terrorists” and falsely holding them responsible for the massacre of Sikhs in Chattisingpora.
The five army men indicted by the CBI were Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lt Col Brajendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena, and Subedar Idrees Khan.
In 2012, the Supreme Court gave the army the option of trying its men either in a court martial or in a criminal court.
The army chose a court martial, which later ruled that the case had “no evidence.”
Utterly dejected with the army court’s ‘verdict’, the families last year decided to file a plea, at first in the J&K High Court, which dismissed it, and then in the Supreme Court, which accepted it.
In Brari Angan area of Anantnag, the families will be holding a prayer meet on Sunday (March 25) and also a protest demonstration on the 18th anniversary of the Pathribal fake encounter.
“We will keep asking for justice, no matter how disgruntled we are,” Rasheed Khan told Kashmir Reader.