iconimg Thursday, July 30, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Jammu, February 02, 2014
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh justice should be provided to the families of five men who were killed by the army in the infamous Pathribal fake encounter. The army on January 23 closed the case, saying there was not sufficient evidence to establish a case against the accused army personnel, evoking a sharp criticism from mainstream and separatist parties in the state.

Seeking punishment to the accused, Omar had expressed disappointment over the closure and said he would raise the issue with the PM, who arrived in Jammu on Sunday to inaugurate Indian Science Congress on Monday.

Four days after the massacre of 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpura in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, the army had on March 26, 2000, claimed it had killed “five foreign terrorists” responsible for the massacre at Pathribal village.

Autopsies and DNA test of the dead revealed they were local civilians, whose kin claimed they were picked up by the army from their homes and murdered in cold blood.

Their faces had been burned beyond recognition and their kin had identified them from shoes and clothes they had been wearing.

The Central Bureau of Investigation had in 2006 indicted Brigadier Ajay Saxena, Lieutenant Colonel Brajendra Pratap Singh, Major Sourabh Sharma, Major Amit Saxena and Subedar Idrees Khan for killing the civilians. The CBI had given clean chit to the state police.

The closure of the case had put Omar in spot because he has been criticised for failing to stop human rights violations by the armed forces.

During the meeting with the PM, Omar also discussed the matters pertaining to security and law and order.

The CM also raised the issue of suspension of cross- LoC trade after the seizure of a truckload of contraband drugs, which has come from PoK.

Omar had said the arrested Pak truck driver is a criminal and doesn’t enjoy any diplomatic immunity.

He said the issue shall be resolved amicably so that the important Confidence Building Measure of trade across the LoC is not jeopardised.

The Pakistan had suspended the cross LoC trade on Jan 17 after the arrest of the driver. It is also not allowing 27 Indian truck drivers to return to India.