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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014

Army closes Pathribal encounter case

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Jammu, January 24, 2014
First Published: 10:41 IST(24/1/2014) | Last Updated: 17:42 IST(24/1/2014)

Fourteen years after five alleged "foreign terrorists" were killed at Pathribal in south Kashmir, the army has closed the case of the fake encounter, saying that the evidence recorded could not establish a prima facie case against any of the accused.

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"The evidence recorded could not establish a prime facie case against any of the accused people, but clearly established that it was a joint operation by the police and the Army based on specific intelligence. The case has since been closed by the Army authorities and intimation given to the court of Srinagar judicial magistrate," an Army spokesperson said.

On March 26, 2000, four days after 35 Sikhs were killed at Chittisinghpora, the army had said it had killed five "foreign terrorists" at Pathribal in south Kashmir.

In 2003, the case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Intelligence (CBI), which indicted five Army personnel for staging the fake encounter and gave a clean chit to the state police in 2006.

The CBI had alleged that seven army personnel of Rashtriya Rifles, including jawans, Brig Ajay Saxena, Lt colonel Brahendra Pratap Singh, Maj Saurabh Sharma, Maj Amit Saxena and subedar Idrees Khan, had  killed five innocent civilians in a fake encounter, claiming that they were terrorists who had shot dead the Sikhs at Chittisinghpora.

In June, 2012, the Army had taken over the case from the court of Srinagar chief judicial magistrate.

"More than 50 witnesses were examined and documentary evidence was taken on the record," said the Army spokesperson.

He added that a team of Army officials also recorded the statements of the next of kin of the victims and other civilian witnesses by visiting the Valley.

The spokesperson said the Army was sensitive to all allegations of human rights violations and had ordered court martial against six personnel in the alleged Machhil fake encounter case.

In the past, 123 personnel found guilty in 59 cases of human rights violations have been punished by the Army in Jammu and Kashmir.

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