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Army closes Pathribal encounter case

Jammu (PTI): Nearly 14 years after the Patribhal fake encounter case rocked Jammu and Kashmir, Army has closed the case saying the evidence recorded could not establish prime facie charges against any of the accused persons.

Army authorities have conveyed this decision to the Court of the Judicial Magistrate in Srinagar.

“The evidence recorded could not establish a prime facie case against any of the accused persons,” a defence spokesman said in Jammu.

However, it was “clearly established that it (the Pathribal encounter) was a joint operation by police and the Army based on specific intelligence,” the spokesman said.

“The case has been closed by Army authorities and intimation given to the Court of the Judicial Magistrate in Srinagar,” the spokesman said yesterday.

CBI had in 2006 indicted five army personnel for staging the encounter while giving a clean chit to state police.

After it was handed over the case in January, 2003, CBI alleged that officials and jawans of the Seven Rashtriya Rifles — Brig Ajay Saxena, Lt Col Brahendra Pratap Singh, Maj Saurabh Sharma, Maj Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan — had staged a fake encounter and killed five innocent civilians whom they said were terrorists involved in an attack on Sikhs at Chittisinghpora in south Kashmir.

Five persons were killed on March 26, 2000 at Pathribal in South Kashmir.

Army had claimed that those killed were mercenaries who were responsible for gunning down 35 members of the Sikh community in an attack on March 21, 2000 while the then US President Bill Clinton was on a visit to India.

Consequent to the CBI probe and an order from Supreme Court in March, 2012, Army had taken over the case from the Court of the Srinagar Chief Judicial Magistrate, the spokesman said.

“Over 50 witnesses were examined, including a large number of civilian witnesses and state government and police officials,” he added.

The 18-page CBI charge sheet stated that following the gunning down of the Sikh community members, the Army unit based in the area was under “tremendous psychological pressure” to show results.

In the past, 123 Army personnel have been found guilty in 59 cases of human rights violations in J-K, the spokesman added.

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