Role of 3 civilians in question in controversial Shopian encounter

The Court of Inquiry had found "prima facie" evidence that the troops had "exceeded" powers under the AFSPA during the July 18 encounter

Security forces personnel take up position during an encounter in J&K | File Photo: PTI

The police need to thoroughly examine the role of three civilians, including a special police officer, in the Shopian shootout in July this year, in which two army personnel are facing an enquiry for the gunning down of three youths at the district’s Amshipura area, sources said.

Sources said the three civilians included a person who had allegedly led the army to the youths in Amshipura in Shopian and that they hold the key to the probe. The statements of the two accused army personnel had been recorded during the Court of Inquiry and would be examined during the Summary of Evidence.

The Court of Inquiry, which completed its probe last month, had found “prima facie” evidence that the troops had “exceeded” powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the July 18 encounter in which the three men were killed. Following this, the army had initiated disciplinary proceedings.

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The three killed in Amshipura were Imtiyaz Ahmed, Abrar Ahmed and Mohammed Ibrar, all from Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri. Their identities were subsequently confirmed through a DNA test. The bodies were handed over to their families in Baramulla earlier this week.

Related news: Army finds troops guilty of ‘exceeding powers’ in Shopian encounter

The role and antecedents of these three youths are also being investigated due to lack of clarity on their intent and actions upon coming to Shopian.

On October 8, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha visited the families of the three Rajouri youths and expressed condolences. He also assured the families that the UT Government will extend full support to them and ensure that justice is done in the case.

He also conveyed the message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the government stands with the aggrieved families, and they will be taken care of with all support from the government.

Officials had earlier said that some civilian witnesses would be called for examination. They include those who act as “informers” for the local army and may have possibly waylaid the troops in the wrong direction.

Related news: Four militants killed in encounter with security forces in J&K’s Shopian

Rules suggest the case details will be examined under various provisions of the law during the Summary of Evidence against the erring Army men. Further action will be taken based on the evidence collected and the rule of the law. The Army has been maintaining high standards of transparency and punishing officials whenever rules are violated, officials said.

During the Summary of Evidence, the proof in relation to a charge against an accused, noted down in writing including any statement made by the accused, is taken on record.

Corps Commander of the Army’s Kashmir-based XV Corps, Lt Gen BS Raju had said on Saturday that the Army had begun the Summary of Evidence as prima facie evidence of some wrong doing had come up during the internal inquiry into the encounter at Amshipura on July 18, in which the Army claimed that three militants were killed.

“We have already shared the basic information (in the case) that the initial court of inquiry has been concluded and we have seen some wrongs committed. On the basis of that, we have ordered the Summary of Evidence which is going on and we hope it concludes soon so that we go into the next stage,” Lt Gen Raju had said.

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