‘Powers under AFSPA exceeded, Do’s and Don’ts of Chief of Staff contravened’
Shopian: The Indian Army on Friday admitted that its troops “exceeded” powers vested under Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in wrongly killing three Rajouri youths in Amshipora village of Shopian district on July 18.
“Disciplinary proceedings” have been initiated against the troops guilty of the offence, the army said without specifying who or how many would face these proceedings.
A statement issued by Srinagar-based army spokesperson, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, reads that the court of inquiry ordered by the army into the incident has brought out “prima facie evidence” that during the operation, “powers vested under the AFSPA 1990 were exceeded and the Do’s and Don’ts of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as approved by the Hon’ble Supreme Court have been contravened.”
The statement said that the competent disciplinary authority has directed to initiate disciplinary proceedings under the Army Act against those found prima-facie answerable.
“The evidence collected by the inquiry has prima-facie indicated that the three unidentified militants killed in Operation Amshipora were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohd Ibrar, who hailed from Rajouri,” the statement reads.
It added that the involvement of the slain youth with militancy and other criminal activities was under investigation by the police, while their DNA reports were awaited.
The statement emphasised that the Indian Army is committed to ethical conduct of operations.
On July 18, the army claimed that its troops killed three unidentified militants in a nocturnal encounter at Amshipora village in Shopian. It also said that arms and ammunition were recovered from the possession of the slain militants.
Almost 22 days after the encounter, three families from Rajouri district in Jammu region claimed that the youths slain in Amshipora were their family members who had gone to Shopian on July 17 to work as manual labour.
On August 19, the army issued an advertisement in Kashmir newspapers asking people to come forward with information about the case. “Any person having credible inputs/ information on the encounter by security forces at village Amshipora, district Shopian dated 18 July 2020 may please contact deputy GOC, HQ CIF ( Victor) on telephone 01933247026 within next 10 days. The identity and details of the person will be kept secret,” the army’s advertisement read.
The Rajouri families had said that they identified the youths from photographs shared by people on social media. They identified the trio as residents of Peeri tehsil of Rajouri district, as Imtiaz Ahmed, son of Sabir Hussain, Ibrar Ahmed, son of Bagha Khan, and Ibrar Ahmed, son of Mohammad Yousuf.
One of the family members had told Kashmir Reader that the three cousins had left home on July 15 and had called on July 17 saying they had reached Shopian and taken a room on rent there. There was no further contact with the trio but the families assumed that they had been quarantined in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Army had earlier issued a statement saying that a court of inquiry had been ordered into the alleged fake encounter. “A high-level court of inquiry into the operation at Amshipora, Shopian, is under process” the army has now reiterated in another statement.
A police team visited the Rajouri families and collected samples for DNA, the results of which were due by September 5. Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh on Thursday told reporters that the DNA reports will come in a few days.
Phone calls by this reporter to family members of the slain trio were not successful in contacting them for their comments on the latest army statement.