The army has been accused of putting pressure on the civil society in Kashmir to withdraw a PIL against its chief, General Bikram Singh.
YES Kashmir, an NGO, had approached the Jammu and Kashmir high court in October last year to raise the issue of an encounter that occurred in Janglat Mandi, Anantnag, in March 2001.
In the clash, Singh — then a brigadier posted in the Valley — suffered gunshot wounds while two army officials lost their lives.
According to the police, an alleged militant dressed as a beggar had approached Singh and opened fire. In the battle that ensued, the militant was killed.
The PIL, however, questions the police theory. A family had come forward in October 2011, claiming that it was their son Abdullah Bhat, an innocent bystander, who had been killed.
The timing of the PIL was questioned in military circles, with many seeing it as an attempt to narrow down Singh’s chances of becoming the army chief.
Soon after Singh took over as the chief of army staff, NGO head Khurshid Ahmed Mir approached the court once again and — in a sworn affidavit — claimed that the force was pressurising him.
Mir has now alleged in the affidavit that “officers of Sector–1 RR are pressurising me to help them withdraw the case by influencing relatives and the counsel for the petitioners… Since the case has turned out to be a high-profile one, I feel insecure in the hands of the army. They are repeatedly putting pressure on me, and can harm me and my family.”
The police had then closed the case, saying the beggar was actually Mateen Chacha — a Pakistan-trained Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist.
They are now refusing to produce a photograph of the ‘beggar’ or identify his grave, demands that the family has made through the PIL.
The board of officers inquiring into the funding of the controversial intelligence unit, constituted by former army chief Gen VK Singh, is now probing possible links between the ‘snoop unit’ and the NGO.
The inquiry notwithstanding, the petition can be embarrassing for the chief as well as the government, particularly if the court orders an investigation into the ‘fake encounter.’ The army declined to comment on the grounds that the inquiry was still on.